“Knowing that tribulation works patience, and pacience experience, experience hope…and hope puts not to shame…” Romans 5:3-5 KJV
The whole area of suffering is a blind spot for human nature, and for some Church movements. In fact the Greek word for tribulation comes with the following definitions: pressure, affliction, anguish, persecution, trouble. I think the COVID19 pandemic fits all these definitions.
When we talk about “tribulation” we think principally of the Great Tribulation that precedes the Coming of Jesus back to the earth to rule and subdue His enemies.
2 Corinthians 7:4 says that Paul is exceedingly joyful in tribulation. In fact the above Scripture I have quoted tells us that the end objective for tribulation is to bring us into a new dimension of hope that does not shame…This is how we acquire supernatural hope.
Supernatural hope comes when we let tribulation work its work in us.
We have to get some “katergazomai” into our being, or rather God’s fashioning. The “works” word is exactly that, it is the fashioning Hand of God bringing out the wonderful blessings of patience, experience and finally acquiring a hope that is never substance less.
2 Corinthians 4, Paul talks about our lives as fragile pots of earth. This means God must fashion us like the pic above, where He presses, moulds the pot into the design He has for us. It is not easy for that earthen vessel. So as the hands fashion in the “tribulation” of our circumstances, we acquire the shape of patience, experience and hope.
God allows tribulation not to destroy but prepare us for our glorious hope
Hope must be really important, because in the very dark times we are sustained by it. When you consider the Psalm 137, where the Captives were singing by the rivers of their Captivity they dreamed and ardently desired Zion. It is in the rivers of our captivity our desires turn. Our desires for “Zion” where we enjoyed the Glory of God, come into focus. God turns us, before He turns our Captivity.
God captivates our captive heart so that He can turn our Captivity
The generation that went into the Captivity were not the same as those who came out, refined and prepared.
When we are tried, when the fires of tribulation burn, we gain a hopeful endurance. That is the Biblical definition of “patience”. Our hopeful endurance should be keeping before us the heavenly promises He has given us.
This patience comes through the Word says Psalm 105, when God sent a man before Israel, who was called to govern but spent his time in prison. The Promise, the Word was tried…he was brought into patience.
Once we are patient in waiting for God’s promise we come into experience, we receive a token of proof that what we are patient over God is working, we will have a foretaste, we will have a sign that it is coming. For Joseph the interpretation of Pharoah’s dream was a proof of Joseph’s patience, he was in a place of being able to bring God’s mind in a time of warning of a coming crisis.
We need to pray so that the Church can be a voice of patience to Governments in this current crisis of COVID19, because everyone is looking for wisdom and a way out. The Church must rise up with a token experience to speak in the wisdom of God in the midst of the empty science, the unknown statistics. Even strong leaders are at a loss to declare. Where is the voice of the Church?
As Joseph brought wisdom to the impending crisis so God is desiring to raise His Church to speak a new word and a new wisdom.
The world is not looking for prophecy, but insight, strategy how the coronavirus can be won over, and how the economy can be reestablished and how hope can be restored.
God in the tribulation process must produce hope. This hope is not just for the immediate but for eternity. We have an eternal destiny.
Instead of us being stuck on the tribulation we must take a different view. There are those who deny it, and focus only on the positive, there are those who focus on its depressive feature, thinking that the tribulation gives them some sort of qualification. It does not. It is pressing through into patience, into experience, producing hope, that we embrace the tribulation because in it we will communicate the same wisdom as Joseph.
The hope we need to transmit is one that engages us in a preparation for the Holy Spirit to come to bring forth the preparation for God to do what men cannot. Our view to tribulation is not to despise it, wish it gone, it must be embraced, because this is not just about us, its about shifting our focus from our suffering to God’s plan in the pandemic. It is about letting God speak through the falling structures and uncertainty. That way hope can come forth.
It is a solid hope, not a vague one. God is specific and wisdom is specific, in that it brings solutions to the current crisis and puts the Church not only as important but essential in the eyes of governments.