Tag Archives: Tribulation

A Word About Tribulating

One of my favorite stories has a devout servant agonizing excessively over a certain experience. She was asked by her mistress, “Why do you agonize so long and so deeply over your misfortune? After all, you’re a Christian and you have the grace of God to help you over times like this.” The servant responded, “Well,

when the Lord sends me tribulation, I tribulate!” Boy does that ring a bell with me – I, too, have often tribulated. How about you? How do you handle the stress of life?



The Apostle Paul handled it this way: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”. (Philippians 4:4) It’s important to know that Paul was in prison awaiting a verdict on his life – if ever he had a right to be stressed out, this was it. Yet 17 times in this letter he mentions rejoicing and joy. There are no loopholes or escape clauses here – just always rejoice. Look at your circumstances and shout a defiant “Nevertheless!”. “Nevertheless, ‘Rejoice.’” The truth is our circumstances need not determine the condition of our hearts.

Rather our hearts can be conditioned by a relationship: Paul says to rejoice “in the Lord.” Rejoice because of what Jesus has done and is doing for you. Never forget that “The Lord is near (at hand.)” Think of a classroom of students. The teacher goes out of the room and remains out for some time. Chances are the atmosphere of the classroom in her absence is different than when she is present. Her presence changes everything. So with Jesus – His presence changes everything. And He is not a teacher standing by us – rather He is the Creator of the world who came to earth to be with us and who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17). No matter what we’re going through, no matter how heavy the load, no matter how hard we’re tribulating, we are not alone. Jesus is at hand, ready to help us.

In light of this, says Paul, “Do not be anxious about anything…” The Greek word for ‘worry’ means to tear apart, to distract, to come apart at the seams of a garment. The Latin word for ‘worry’ suggests a violent agitation and turmoil inside a person. The Anglo-Saxon word describes a power gripping a man by the throat. Get the picture? Anxiety and worry tear us apart, create inner turmoil, and grab us by the throat. The reality is anxiety and stress have adverse effects on our muscles, heart rate, blood vessels, and our glands. It is, therefore, important to live by the principle, “Do not be anxious about anything…” It’s a choice we make. Since the Lord is at hand, and since all things hold together in Him, we can release ourselves from the compulsion to tackle our circumstances by ourselves.

I appreciate how a poet penned it:

“Don’t you trouble trouble Till troubles trouble you,
Don’t you look for trouble; Let trouble look for you…
Don’t you borrow sorrow You’ll surely have your share.
He who dreams of sorrow Will find that sorrow’s there…
Don’t you hurry worry By worrying lest it come.
To flurry is to worry, ‘Twill miss you if you’re mum…
If care you’ve got to carry Wait till ‘tis at the door;
For he who runs to meet it Takes up the load before…
If minding will not mend it, Then better not to mind;
The best thing is to end it – Just leave it all behind…
Who feareth hath forsaken The Heavenly Father’s side;
What He hath undertaken He surely will provide…
The very birds reprove thee With all their happy song;
The very flowers teach thee That fretting is a wrong…
’Cheer up,’ the sparrow chirpeth, ‘Thy Father feedeth me;
Think how much more He careth, O lonely child, for thee.’…
’Fear not,’ the flowers whisper; ‘Since thus he hath arrayed
The buttercup and daisy, How canst thou be afraid?’…
Then don’t you trouble trouble, Till trouble troubles you;
You’ll only double trouble, And trouble others too.” (1)

Tribulate or rejoice – the choice is yours! (2)

(1) Quoted by Roy L. Laurin in Life Established: A Devotional Exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians, Van Kampen Press, Wheaton, IL., © 1948 by Van Kampen Press, p. 46-47

(2This Blog comes from a sermon by Pastor Curry, “Living a Joy-full Life: Control Your Stress” based on Philippians 4:1-9.