In Acts 14, we read about Paul and Barnabas going through persecution in the cities of Iconium and Lystra. It was in the city of Lystra that Paul was stoned by an angry mob and left for dead. However, the next day Paul and Barnabas continued preaching the Gospel in the city of Derbe and later returned to Iconium, Lystra, and Antioch, where they encouraged believers. In Acts 14:22, we read that Paul and Barnabas were, “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.” (KJV).
The word tribulation can mean such things as affliction, suffering, persecution, or trials. To one degree or another, every believer in Christ will face trials and tribulations as we walk in the midst of a world that is turning away from God. There are brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted by terrorist groups and oppressive governments. Maybe your trial is an illness, a job loss, the death of a loved one, whatever it is our Lord is close by to comfort all who are brokenhearted.
I have heard it said by well-meaning Christians, “Never pray for patience because it brings on a trial.” However, the above Scripture and further Scripture study refute that saying. The connection between praying for patience and the onset of trials has no Scriptural basis, much like the saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Just as God allowed the suffering of Christ for our sins, the trials of Job, and the persecution of the early church, so too does He allow trials to come into our lives. The key to facing and overcoming these trials is patience.
The Greek word used the most for patience in the New Testament is the word, hupomone (Strong’s #5281), which means “cheerful, endurance, constancy; an abiding under.” Even in today’s at your fingertips instant world, God still requires believers to be patient in all circumstances, whether good or bad. We must remember that when we face a trial, God is developing our long-term character. To use a sports analogy, God wants to build a team of marathon runners, not sprinters. The New Testament teaches us the importance and necessity of patience.
We develop patience through the study of God’s Word
[Speaking of sowing the Word of God] “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15, KJV).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3, KJV).
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (James 5:10, KJV).
Patience allows us to endure afflictions and tribulations
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptation; Know this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4, KJV).
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5, KJV).
“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19, KJV).
God teaches us patience so we can become more Christ-like.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” (Colossians 1:10-11, KJV).
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father. Knowing brethren beloved, your election of God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-4, KJV).
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8, KJV).
Patience keeps us focused on the eternal rewards we have in Christ
“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5, KJV).
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:34-36, KJV).
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:12-13, KJV).
Brothers and sisters, we need to pray for patience to endure and overcome the trials we face and what is coming upon this world. There will be upcoming tribulation the Church will have to endure. We must be eagerly awaiting the return of our Lord and King Jesus Christ, who will set everything right when He establishes His Millennial reign and when he vanquishes Satan and the curse of sin and death once and for all. If we lose our patience, we can be in danger of losing sight of Christ, as did the churches rebuked by the Lord in the Book of Revelation. Brothers and sisters, we must also remember this world is not our home, we are merely pilgrims passing through onto an eternal paradise greater than we can imagine.