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2020 has reminded me of what Jesus said long ago in John 16:33 that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” This year has either been one long tribulation, or one tribulation after another.  Either way, so many people are struggling to endure as loneliness, depression, suicide, abuse, and divorce are on the rise.  So how can we endure tribulation without being destroyed by it?  In Revelation 1:9, John tells us this helpful line saying he is our “brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…” From that, we can see 3 ways to endure tribulation.

1. Realize you’re not alone.

Tribulation has a way of making us think we’re the only ones going through what we are going through, or that nobody can understand us.  But when John writes saying I’m your brother and partner in tribulation he’s combating the lie that we’re alone.  That’s ironic because John was physically alone on a rock, exiled to the island of Patmos for his faith in Jesus.  Yet he realized the truth that he was still a partner with the other Christians on the mainland who were going through their own tribulation.  Was their tribulation the same thing as his?  On the surface, no.  But underneath and internally, all tribulation is painful no matter what form it comes in.  Our specific tribulations may vary, but we all experience the soul-grinding pain of tribulation in this world. So enduring tribulation starts in the mind, realizing we may feel alone, but we are not alone.

2. Reach out

How many times have you thought, “why has nobody reached out to me?  Don’t they know what I’m going through?” In tribulation, we hurt and we long for someone to reach out to us.  In Revelation, we see God instruct John to write down what God is showing him and then to reach out to his brothers and sisters.  John didn’t wait for others to come to reach out to him.  He, in obedience to the God who reached out to him, took initiative to reach out to others.  What could God do through us if we all took initiative to just reach out? Who can you call, text or visit, to let them know they’re not alone?  Just ask, “how are you doing?” or, “how can I pray for you?”  You don’t have to try and fix their troubles or solve their problems, or even expect them to understand your specific struggles, just demonstrate that you are with them, a partner or companion in tribulation.

3. Rely on Jesus

Tribulation gets us thinking, “I can’t do this any longer.  It’s overwhelming!”  That can lead us to escape to destructive choices, or it can be our alarm going off reminding us to rely on Jesus.  John says not only are we partners in the tribulation but also in the kingdom (where Jesus reigns as King) and in the patient endurance that are in Jesus.  Tribulation requires patient endurance, like running a marathon, not a sprint.  And the way we develop patient endurance is not by obsessing on our tribulation, or by looking at the news or our social media feeds. Rather, it comes by sitting in the presence of the One who endured the tribulation of the cross for our sins, and who promises to one day return and put an end to all tribulation.

I invite you to practice relying on Jesus in His presence by taking 10 minutes to sit in silence with Him.  Your tribulation worries will start to flood your mind, and rather than try and quiet them or beat yourself up for having them, give each one to Jesus by saying, “Jesus, you reign over this, and I rely on you.”  If we cultivate this practice daily, increasing the minutes we spend with Him, and we’ll start to see King Jesus really is carrying all of us through this temporary tribulation.

Our sanctuary is open every Monday night from 6-7 pm for a time of silent prayer. We invite you to come and practice sitting in the presence of Jesus with us.

For questions or comments, please email Pastor Steve Miller at