WHEN IN TROUBLE: Tribulation?
Jesus told his followers that in this world they would have trouble (Jn.16: 33), and woe to those that are the cause of it (Mt.18: 7). The Greek uses the word “thlipsin” (pressure). It has to do with severe hardship and oppression. The King James Bible describes such a time as a tribulation. Whenever God’s people went through such times, they emerged more vigorous in their growth. And whenever God’s people were accepted and tolerated by the world, they became complacent and lost their distinct identity. Being trouble-free is not exactly a benefit for God’s people.
The Egyptians, prior to Moses, oppressed the Israelites and they grew in their faith and in numbers (Ex.1: 20). Persecution drove the first Christians from Jerusalem and into the world (Ac.8: 1). The severest persecutions took place under the Roman Caesars; yet by 320 A.D. Rome had become Christian and by 800 A.D. all of Europe had become Christian. Then when the Roman Church asserted its secular and religious power via the inquisition, followers of the Bible and of Jesus brought about the reformation. And when the reformers began to persecute believers that differed, the persecuted came to America and spread their faith in spite of the hardships and oppressions. Trouble was an impetus for the followers of Christ to grow and multiply.
Since World War II, Western Christianity has had a time of serene tranquility. There was no opposition or oppression of Christians under the democratic regimes in Europe or in America. The few revivals that were conducted impacted Christians mainly. When a few Christians began to be known, the secularist quickly shut them down as meddlers interfering with the separation of religion and politics. With this ruling, Christianity in the U.S.A. might as well have died. The question is, “Will this legal persecution of Christians awaken them and challenge them to take up the cause of Christ or will they succumb completely to secular humanism?”
History tells us that once Christians begin to die for their faith in Christ, things begin to change in their favor. How close are we in America before we face the greatest of all tribulations? The multitude that is with God in heaven has come from such a time (Rev.7: 14-17).