“These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The word John used in this passage was thlipsis, which means to crush, press in upon, or squeeze. It describes being in a room with no doors in which the walls begin to move inward. Relentless pressure with no way out. Yet…Jesus said we could have peace. How? We need a door to escape, don’t we? Jesus told His disciples He was the door; if anyone entered through Him, they would be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture. So, Jesus provides an escape to the relentless barrage of bad news, because He has overcome the world of sadness, despair, anger, frustration, fear, and strife.
The World is Temporal
When we hear of innocent children and teachers slain by a crazed teen-ager; when we go to the store and experience the ravages of inflation; when we see our nation abandon its promises; and when we see the rule of law terminally ill, we can still have hope. This world is temporary. Another kingdom awaits the children of God, an eternal one that will ultimately end death, tears and sorrow. As Christians we are heirs to that kingdom IF we hold fast and overcome, not in our strength, but in Jesus’ power.
Called to Be Salt and Light
We cannot just exist in this world, however. Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth…salt flavors and preserves. He also spoke of us as the light of the world. Light exposes imperfections and evil. However, it takes courage in a crooked and perverse generation to expose men’s evil deeds. Jesus did not intend for us to be taken out of a world of tribulation but gave us the power to resist the evil one…that is, the devil, who was a liar and murderer from the beginning. It is he who is planting his murderous lies in vulnerable people. Jesus assured His disciples and us if the Son sets us free, we shall be free indeed. The constricted room of tribulation does have a way out after all.
Whether our imprisonment is from general trials because of the sinful world, or afflictions God allows to come into our lives, or His chastisement for our own sins, we can escape if we come to the “door.” In Revelation 3:20, He assures us that He is standing at the door knocking, seeking entrance.
When tribulation comes, we must remember He is there, ready to give us power to resist in the time of tribulation, whether from an imperfect world, or because the enemy of our souls has lied to us and made us forget His eternal promises.
The apostle James instructed us in those times to submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us. He holds the power; He will never leave or forsake us.