ALTHOUGH THE ALMIGHTY God permitted that the ancient Israelites in the kingdom of Judah be taken into Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C.E., brought about by their moral and spiritual decadence, He consoled them through these comforting words: “… Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears … there is hope for your future” (Jer. 31:16-17, New International Version).
“There is hope for your future” is a very timely encouragement nowadays in the wake of current economic woes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, snow, storms, drought, terrorism, war, chaos, and poverty in various parts of the globe, rendering a bleak future to many.
No doubt, to constantly think of the undesirable things in life will not bring peace and tranquility to one’s self. The following verses attest this, thus: “For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. What I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:24-26, Ibid.).
That is why on the part of God’s true servants, what they should do, amidst seemingly inescapable unfavorable conditions, is to draw consolation from the Heavenly Father, as what King David encouragingly expressed, thus: “Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him” (Ps. 62:5, Contemporary English Version).
To have such a firm conviction that “only God gives inward peace” boosts the confidence of His people to perceive global events in a different perspective no matter how grim they may be. They will always think of the good that each discouraging situation they are in would bring to their lives-to come out genuine in their faith after going through trials (I Pet. 1:7, New Living Translation).
Hence, when troubles come to their lives or when they find themselves in tough situations, they recall Apostle James’ soothing advice, thus: “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong of character and ready for anything” (James 1:2-4, Ibid.).
Indeed, servants of God have reason to be joyful even when various trials come their way for these will bring out from them endurance, steadfastness, and patience, making them “ready for anything”.
‘They are good for us’
Apostle Paul too, in his epistle, echoed the same counsel to Christians when they run into trials and problems: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us-they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:3-5, Ibid.).
When the same apostle spoke about problems and trials, he helped God’s servants realize that they are “good for us” for they produce endurance, leading to the strength of character and confident hope of eternal salvation. Hence, God’s people, in the midst of troubles and difficulties, should not lose hope for all these, if dealt with properly, would be for their own advantage-for their attainment of salvation.
There’s no wonder that the apostles were able to convey hope, confidence, and optimism to their fellow Christians for they received a great deal of understanding from the Savior Himself who said, thus: “ …Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, Living Bible).
“Cheer up” was the Lord Jesus Christ’s motivating advice to His disciples in facing the multitude of trials and sorrows, settings Himself as their role model in doing so-“I have overcome the world,” He said. In spite of all that had happened to Him, He did not give up obeying God. True Christians today, should likewise cheer up and not be discouraged when facing troubles, for in the end, they will be rewarded with the peace that the Lord Jesus Christ promised them: “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, Ibid.).
Nothing compares to this peace reserved by the Christ for His worthy servants. What the world offers is a momentary peace while that which the Savior promised is an enduring one, a great and precious reward that man should truly aspire for.
We will be saved
(Heb. 10:35, God’s Word) that they obtained by way of the precious grace redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ’s blood. Attesting to the right salvation of those redeemed, Apostle Paul assuredly declares, thus: “But God has shown us how much more, then, will, we be saved by him from God’s anger!” (Rom. 5:8-9, Today’s English Version).
God’s anger, as mentioned, will be revealed on the great day of the Lord. The prophet Zephaniah attests to the certainty of that day: “The great day of the Lord is near-near coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. … Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’S wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth“ (Zeph. 1:14, 18, NIV).
Man’s helplessness and powerlessness will all the more be revealed when God ultimately shows His fierce anger for the whole world and all who live in it will be consumed by fire on the day of Judgment (II Pet. 3:7, 10, New King James Version). Hence, that man be covered by Christ’s redemption is of supreme importance. Yet, man can only receive this sacred grace within the Church Of Christ, as what Apostle Paul teaches, thus: “Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the Church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood” (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation).
The promised future reward
This biblical truth is what truly boosts the confidence of genuine members of the Church Of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo-that they are fortunately privileged to be saved on judgment Day. Hence, no matter what their job, livelihood, health, and family-they do not lose courage. They cheer up in times of trials, firmly believing that as they continue serving God amid hardships, the more they are making it certain that salvation will be theirs on judgment Day.
They hope for the promised future reward---the things that cannot be seen and that last forever. Apostle Paul declared as to what true Christians will certainly inherit: “We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen” (II Cor. 4:16-18, CEV).
Worldly things, including sufferings and afflictions brought by poverty, sickness, and others, are rendered temporary, brief, and fleeting. In contrast, the promised rewards for members of the Church Of Christ who do not lose their confidence or sacred right for salvation is beyond compare. The rich blessings that God keeps for them will never perish, spoil, or fade away. Apostle Peter revealed this through his epistle, thus; ‘Let us give thanks to the god and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you to heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away. They are for you, who through faith are kept safe by God’s power for the salvation which is ready to be revealed at the end of time” (I Pet. 1:3-5, TEV).
‘I will guide you’
In their earthly pilgrimage, where calamity, hardship, wickedness abound and grow even more severe, the fruitful servants of God shall hold to this promise made by Him that His guidance in protection will always with them: “The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway your life. I will advise you and watch over you. … Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord’” (Ps. 32:8, 10, NLT).
Indeed, God’s unfailing love is what true Iglesia Ni Cristo members extremely desire, for, with His love and abiding care, they will make it to the end, achieving what they are hoping for---salvation and life everlasting in God’s heavenly kingdom.