These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
The church of Jesus Christ must undergo opposition from without as well as debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings from within (II Corinthians 12:20). In many ways the external tribulation makes more sense and is more bearable, and victory over it is sweeter. These sentiments are expressed in verse four of our study hymn, The Churchs One Foundation..
Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation, Of peace for ever more; Till with the vision glorious, Her longing eyes are blest, And the great church victorious, Shall be the church at rest.
On a missionary trip to Lystra, the apostle Paul was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). He recovered, but his burden for the new Christians was so great he returned to Lystra. . . . Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (vv.21,22). To Paul, suffering was something to be expected, and even desired, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10).
But the church must look beyond the suffering to the consummation of Gods plan for the ages. We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:18).
Peace and rest come as we recognize that our Lord made peace through the blood of the cross (Colossians 1:20), assuring us of eternal life; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast (Hebrews 6:19). JDM