When God first created the earth and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the world was a perfect place. But the moment Eve sinned, the world became a broken place and has, over time, become more broken then ever. Jesus never promised that following Him would make life easy. In fact, He told His disciples that they would have tribulation as long as they were in the world.
If we were to define “tribulation, ” it would be “a state of great trouble or suffering. Yes, the Bible talks about the great tribulation that is associated with the rapture of all the Christians from this world, but in this verse, Jesus was telling his disciples to expect trouble – even then in their day. Today, one only has to turn the news on to hear countless stories of great trouble or suffering. We experience it when the news from the doctor isn’t what we wanted to hear. We experience it when we lose a job or a loved one. We experience it when we don’t get the promotion. We experience it through an unexpected and very expensive car repair. We experience it through divorce. It occurs when there is a miscarriage. From domestic violence to mass shootings, tribulations are everywhere. As long as Satan and his demons have free reign in this world, there will be tribulations. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that we can expect weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
The disciples all definitely experienced tribulation. While the Bible only tells how two of them died, but there are reports and legends that tell us what happened to them.
- Peter was martyred in Rome about 66 AD – crucified, upside down at his request
- Andrew went to the “land of the man-eaters” (now known as the Soviet Union) where he is claimed to be the first to bring the gospel to that area. He also preach in Asia Minor, modern-day Tureky, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.
- Thomas appears to have been most active east of Syria and traditions have him going as far as east India to spread the gospel. It is claimed that he died there when he was pierce through with the spears of four soldiers.
- Philip is said to have preached in North Africa and then Asia Minor where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested. Some accounts indicate he was stoned to death and others indicate he was crucified upside down while still continuing to preach the gospel.
- Matthew (the tax collector and author of the Gospel of Matthew) preached in Persia and Ethiopia. Some reports say he was not martyred while others indicate he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
- Bartholomew preached in India with Thomas, as well as Armenia, Ethiopia, and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of his death, but they all agree that he was martyred by crucifixion, also upside down.
- James, the son of Alpheus is believed to have preached in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reports that the was stoned and then clubbed to death.
- Simon the Zealot may have ministered in Persia where he was killed because he refused to sacrifice to the sun god.
- John is the only one believed to have died a natural death from old age – but they did try to kill him. It is believed that he was the leader of the church in Ephesus and that he took Mary, Jesus’ mother, into his home when Jesus was crucified. When Christians were being persecuted under Domitian rule, he was cast into boiling oil at Rome and survived. He was exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation.
- Matthais took the place of Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. Traditionally, it is believe that he preached in Syria with Andrew and was put to death by burning.
- Paul, while not a disciple until after Jesus ascended into heaven, was responsible for the writing of many of the New Testament books of the Bible. He was a missionary and traveled to several countries to spread the gospel. Eventually, he was imprisoned and martyred in Rome about 66 AD under Emperor Nero who had him beheaded.
If these disciples who followed Jesus experienced tribulation, why do people today think that the Christian life is rosy and sunshine? While Jesus walked the earth, he did not go through life as “positive-thinker.” Isaiah 53:3 describes Him as a man of sorrows. The simple truth is that life is hard.
There is no such thing as a “name it and claim” theology and anyone who preaches it, is a false teacher. Jesus very clearly informed us in John 16:33 that we would have tribulation in this world. The good news is that Jesus didn’t put the period to the sentence at that point, but follows it with the word, “but.” Yes, we will have tribulation, but Jesus said we should be of good cheer. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world and because He did, we can have hope. Jesus overcame the world when he defeated Satan through His sacrificial death on the cross. Because of the cross, the power of sin has been defeated and eternal life is available to all who believe in Him. As a Christian, death does not get the final say. The world does not get the final say. No matter what we face in this life, it is temporary and when we step from this life into eternal life, all that was suffered here will be no more. It isn’t that we won’t have troubles in this life, but that we can have peace in the trouble as we go through it in the strength of God because of what Jesus did to make our eternal life secure. In John 16:20 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” Eternal joy, as we spend eternity in the presence of our Lord and Savior.
Jesus said we would have tribulation in this world. Thankfully, He didn’t put the period there, but follows it with “but.” We will have tribulation, but we should be of good cheer because He overcame the world & because He did, we have hope. — click to tweet
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.
With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.