Rejoicing in Tribulation

When I took an Advanced Writing course at Glassboro State College I was greatly disheartened when I received the grade of C+ on a paper I wrote. When I conferred with my professor about it, she calmly said, "Lloyd, in the light of eternity this grade has no significance."


And she was certainly right about that. When you come right down to it, not that many things do matter in the light of eternity. Billy Graham wrote, "Christians can rejoice in tribulation because they have eternity's values in view. When the pressures are on, they look beyond their present predicament to the glories of heaven. The thoughts of the future life with its prerogatives and joys help to make the trials of the present seem light and transient."


What is it that enables a Christian to rejoice in tribulation? Take first-century martyr Blandina, for example. She was a Christian lady of a weak constitution who was thought not to be able to resist torture. John Foxe writes, "[her] fortitude was so great that her tormentors became exhausted with their devilish work." Twice she was suspended on a piece of wood and exposed as food for wild lions, but they would not touch her. Instead of being frightened in the face of what seemed to be certain death, she prayed earnestly for her companions and encouraged them. Foxe writes, "The last time she was brought out, she was accompanied by 15-year-old Ponticus. The steadfastness of their faith so enraged the multitude that neither her sex nor his youth were respected, and they were subjected to the severest punishments and tortures. Blandina was torn by the lions, scourged, put into a net and tossed about by a wild bull, and placed naked into a red-hot metal chair."


What did this noble woman do at that point? "When she could speak, she exhorted all near her to hold fast to their faith. Poniticus persevered unto death. When Blandina's torturers were unable to make her recant her faith, they killed her with a sword." (See Foxe's Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. Published by Bridge-Logos.)


I wonder how and what I would do under similar circumstances? Would I bear a faithful witness to the Savior? Would I be able to rejoice in tribulation like this? Would I comfort others?


Jesus said, "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). Yes, it is possible to rejoice in tribulation, for Jesus has overcome the world!

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