The word tribulations hearken back to times of old when God warned of a great purging but we rarely think of the modern world enduring such suffering. In fact, I suspect we believe we are about as immune from tribulations as we are from small pox. Tribulations just don’t happen now-a-days. Or of they do - they happen to other people. Or if they happen in our neighborhood in the form of fire or flood - we always have good neighbors and government programs to see us through.
But the tribulations that really change history and alter the course of human destiny are a bit more dramatic. For one thing, they tend to be more severe and they tend to last longer. Real tribulations that we read about or remember from stories change things because the old ways won’t work anymore. In fact, like in the time of the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity – everything changed – even their position in society, the place they called home, family & societal connections and their ability to worship God as they had been taught. Yet, as much as they were warned of the coming tribulation so they were comforted with the knowledge that God would not forsake those who loved Him.
It was the remnant who were forced to leave who ended up coming back bearing the fullness of a strengthened and renewed faith to their ancient homelands a generation later.The Britons also experienced a similar reality. The Christianized Britons were the early faithful who were attacked by invaders; first the Pict’s and then the Anglo-Saxons and their faith was submerged by the Wodin & Thor-loving barbarians who plunged their society into what we now call the Dark Ages. But it was from those faithful who survived the tribulations and learned something from them, who experienced the power and the majesty of God to preserve the souls of those who love Him. It was only a matter of time (a few centuries, true) but the remnant were the winners and Christianity blossomed in the monasteries from the painstaking efforts of monks and sisters who were undoubtedly raised by God-loving parents. Someone kept the flame alive even in the darkest times and those who passed on the flame may not have seen with their earlthly eyes how their faith would one day be kindled into a universal glory.
We live in a time where we think we are untouchable but tribulations tend to happen to those who least expect them. The prophet, Isaias, warned of trouble and the hope of redemption and so did the Christ. We must be aware that tribulations come not so often to those who expect them as to those who need them. But many innocent men women and children paid dearly for the necessary change of course. Without these alterations we might find the human race unaltered, enduring not tribulation but doom.
In the book, ARAM, I set up the scene where a man comes to wonder who he is, why he was created, and where he is going after his earthly struggle is over. The characters’ struggle is our struggle on a basic level. In the sequel, Ishtar’s Redemption, the tribulation changes from identity to facing and enduring the changes that must be made, the altered course that must be taken. In this too, we struggle for no one likes to have their plans changed, their lives thrown into upheaval and their certainty changed to doubt and confusion. In the final book of this trilogy, Neb-the-Great, the tribulation is explained from its inception and seen through to a noble hope; the hope that we all bear deep in side – that humanity will grow, that we will become a better race of beings, and that God will never forsake those who love Him.
May we endure our tribulations well.