(#271 from Suffer Well Devotional Series©)
And when they had preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls [mind, will, and emotions] of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of the Mighty One.” (Acts 14:21-22)
When you think of tribulation, think: narrow, tight, closely pressed, distressed, restricted, or even “of straitened circumstances.” These would be the appropriate thought forms that the word “tribulation” is intended to invoke in the Hebrew mindset. In other words, “Let Me strengthen your mind by training you to restrict your choice of thoughts. Let Me teach you the narrow range of thoughts available to the mind being renewed.” It is a limited selection, no veering off to the right or left, but a straight and determined way of thinking. There is One body and One Spirit, just as you were called in One hope of your calling; One Master, One faith, One baptism; One Mighty One and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6) Yes, it is narrow! There is One body with One mind, all having conformed to the mind of Yahweh, conformed to His Holy consciousness.
And why does this teaching and training feel like tribulation? Because tribulation is what you experience as a result of your resistance to the lessons. Tribulation draws its energy from your continual attempts to satisfy personal desire, rather than submit to Yahweh’s will. You have often heard the term “Flesh vs. Spirit.” Let the understanding of this penetrate deeply into your thought life. The resistance, which is your own self-will, is the cause of tribulation. And this will never change unless you decrease and Messiah increases in you. Without Him, your natural state would be corrupt forever. In other words, your need to satisfy yourself would dominate your choices every time. This is the antithesis of the limited choices available to the redeemed mind!
Learn this most Holy of patterns. When you “feel” closely pressed and distressed within your thought world, do not run to carnally safe places, those which only preserve the “self,” but rather, allow the Spirit to do a work in you. Consciously remind yourself that when your thoughts are tight and restricted, it is most likely the Spirit working in you. Learn to wait in silence and patience, so tribulation’s perfect work might be accomplished. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Don’t fret, don’t be anxious, and don’t be impetuous! They that wait upon Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Wait upon Yahweh and let your mind be strengthened.