And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint . . .  Romans 5:3-5  NASB

Tribulations – Can you think upside-down?  Putting on the “new man” requires more than a change of clothes.  It requires a renewal of the mind.  That means seeing what is happening in the world with different eyes, recognizing the fingerprints of God in places most people attempt to avoid and hearing His voice when the rest of the world is shouting blasphemy.  And it all begins with afflictions.

Paul chooses the Greek word thlipsis.  What a wonderful word!  Here is just a taste of the imagery.

To be pressed – Did you think of discomforting pressure?  In one Greek play, the word means “to kiss.”  But of course it does.  Kissing is pressing the lips together, isn’t it?  Can you imagine that afflictions are God’s kisses?

To squeeze – The sense is making a space smaller and smaller.  Is your world being compressed?  But don’t forget the other picture.  The narrow gate is the only way into the Kingdom.  Have you thought of afflictions as signposts on the way to the narrow gate?

To oppress – Greek philosophy taught that the last great oppression is death, and that the goal of Mankind is to assert freedom through stoic endurance, to die as we choose.  But the Hebrew word for oppression, anaw, is a powerful sign of those whom God loves beyond measure.  It is at the heart of the third Beatitude (Matthew 5:5 quoting Psalm 37:11).  The ones who experience forced oppression have a guarantee from God.  Did you realize that your affliction as one of the saints is God’s seal of your worthiness in the olam ha’ba?

To be treated hostilely, as an enemy – Are your tribulations separating you from others?  Are one-time friends estranged because you follow the King?  Are you the outsider these days?  Those painful experiences connect us with another double meaning.  The mark of agape is the love of an enemy, and how will we learn such love if we are always among friends?  Do you experience your afflictions as God’s training camp in agape?

How you understand and deal with afflictions probably says more about who you are in Christ than any other living statement you could make.  Are your afflictions the highlights of your witness to the world?

Just a few thoughts about “the fellowship of His suffering.”

Topical Index:  thlipsis, afflictions, honor, oppression, anaw, Romans 5:3

  • Gabe March 17, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Is there a difference between discipline and punishment? Maybe God’s actions would be less mysterious if these were distinguished.

    • Skip Moen March 17, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Yes, there is a difference. Punishment is reprisal for guilt. It is designed to atone. Discipline is correction. It is designed to restore. Sometimes the action appears the same, but until the Day of Wrath, God directs His intervention toward restoration. Of course, there are consequences for our sins, so a type of punishment is built into those acts of disobedience, but God does not allow those consequences to become punishment until restoration is no longer possible.

      • Jan Carver March 17, 2012 at 8:27 am

        Top o the morning Skip & Happy St Pat’s Day to ya…

        i was reading my daily reading on 3.10.2012 & found in the NIV version this:
        Numbers 14:17-19
        New International Version (NIV)
        17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty *unpunished*; he *punishes* the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

        and then in the King James Version (WITH NO WORD(S) OF PUNISHMENT):
        Numbers 14:17-19
        King James Version (KJV)
        17And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

        18The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

        19Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.


      • Gabe March 17, 2012 at 10:13 am

        I have tried to articulate the difference before, both for theological and practical purposes. Raising my children has forced me to. I like the ‘restoration’ approach.

  • Luzette March 17, 2012 at 8:33 am

    The Holy One’s wrath is therefore not designed to destroy or injure those to whom He has pledged His troth but is instead designed to start a chain reaction of redemption. His wrath brings about discipline, which if received brings about t’shuvah [a returning to covenant] which if sincere brings about restoration and healing, which bring about growth, which brings about maturity and destiny and fulfillment of purpose.

    This is precisely the process described poignantly by David over and over again in the Psalms – for example, read Psalms 38 through 43 as a unit.

  • Luzette March 17, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Sorry I pushed the enter button by mistake too early- the above and the following is a cimmentary I read this past week in regard to Exodus 32:10:

    “the Holy One’s anger toward His Betrothed is never destructive in intent or effect – but is always constructive. “Kalah” means to make ready for use or enjoyment; to complete to an extent that it (Israel or me) can begin to function according to its designed purpose.

    This is the process that is involved in the Hebrew verb kalah.

    It is the process the Holy One uses to mold a shameless harlot into a pure, spotless Bride.

    Get to know the sin-wrath-t’shuvah-redemption process well.

    It is going to be a recurring theme of the Holy One’s plan for your life – and for mine.”

  • Luzette March 17, 2012 at 8:56 am

    …..around here the native people do not talk of high blood pressure. They would say that you have ” high blood” – well, this laptop is giving me “high blood”!!

    • Skip Moen March 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

      I thought you always had “high blood” 🙂

  • carl roberts March 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Please, please..let us learn (today!) the marked difference between “punishment” and “chastisement!” We parental units (hopefully) do not “punish” our children- we (according to the instruction of the scriptures) lovingly “chastise” them.
    Punishment is for criminals. Chastisement is for children. Chastisement is always with a view or goal or agenda toward correction in right-behavior or towards right-living or right-relationships or “righteousness”- which is “right-relatedness.” “Afterwards” it yields the fruit of righteousness or right-relatedness.
    Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction.. er.. “Thy rod and Thy staff- they comfort me?” Is the Living G-d correcting us toward “right-behavior?” Is my ever watchful, ever mindful, ever-present ABBA- intricately and intimately involved in the every-day details of my (so-called) “ordinary?” life? Yes. He is.- And He (Himself) “disciplines” (Ouch!) – those He loves.
    Been to the the Father’s “woodshed” lately? Is the Master-Teacher attempting to (ahem..) – get our attention? Is there any (pardon the language construction) quicker-faster- more effective method to bring us into focused attention (kavanah!) than (ouch-again!)- pain?
    And have you noticed these two are also “traveling companions?”- pain and suffering? And may we (also) say with the Singing Shepherd- the prophet-King David- “it is good for me that I have been afflicted?”
    Friends, – why, (tell my why) is affliction a “good thing?” -Oh, that I had a megaphone or a microphone in this pregnant moment…
    May I? I would like to present today’s weapon. – It is a three inch long hatpin. If (heaven forbid) I were to poke you (ouch again!) with this horribly pointed device- you would get my point and feel the point of pain- right there at the point of impact. Now don’t be questioning my motives- I’m trying to get my point (ouch!) across. Are you (now) awake?- Better than a cup of coffee? Oh? – you prefer coffee? (So do I).
    But G-d, is such an Artist! and so wonderfully skilled in- “the Art of Discipline”. And it is an art indeed! – Parents, have you ever had to apply the “board of education” to the (ahem..) “seat of knowlege?” (is it warm in here?). Oh, but “afterwards”- thank G-d for the “after.” “After” you have suffered awhile- may you perfect- stablish-strengthen-settle you..
    Patient endurance/ perseverance is the name of the game. Friends- we are (all) going through this together. We are not alone- G-d is working in each of our lives to “conform us” (conform- a word of heat and pressure!) into the image of the Son. (Hallelujah!)
    I, for one, am going to cooperate with His program. I will go through the Refiner’s Fire- if He wants me to. (is this trip necessary?) I will go through the valley of Despair. I will go through the valley of Despondency. I will go through the valley..- Friends- the key word here is always “through..” And there is always-always- ALWAYS- Someone, (do you know this ONE?) who is ever “with us” in the (always perfectly heated) furnace of affliction..
    Who made the Captain of our salvation “perfect” (mature) through His sufferings? -the servant (me) is not above the Master.. (Him). I too must suffer these things. – No pain- no gain.
    Three hundred sixty six times the living-active word of Truth, G-d’s Word has instructed us- “fear not!” I’ll ask the question.. “why?” or “why not?”- Does our Father know what He is doing? (ridiculous, isn’t it?- I speak as a fool..) and what do the scriptures (our source of comfort) say?
    ~For whom the LORD loves He chastens/disciplines..~ Loves? Yes. Chastening is a sign of ownership. We may only chasten our own children.. (lol) -the neighbors’ kids we may only long to ‘chasten..”
    And is the word “disciple” a close cousin to the word “discipline?” Amen. (it is so!)

  • Gabe March 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Not to muddy the waters, but:

    People often wrongly attribute Satan’s acts – to God. They take the deceiver out of the picture, and ask why God allows suffering, cancer, mosquitoes, ect.

    Has the pendulum swung too far now? Now,… do we attribute much of God’s personal discipline – to Satan? I’m not really talking about hurricanes because of homosexuality, but the things we sometimes say after someone gets baptized, “Now that you are giving your life to Christ, it doesn’t mean everything will be all roses. Satan will try to discourage you. You aren’t safely on his side anymore, … ect.” But perhaps many of those ‘hardships’ are God’s loving disciplinary actions in the life of His new son or daughter.

    The Pharisee’s lethal mistake was to confuse the acts of Yeshua with those of Satan – so it is very important that we recognize the hand of God as distinguished from all else.

    • Robin Jeep March 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Satan is a putty pawn in the hands of God.

    • Skip Moen March 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      But wait! First, Satan has NO POWER whatsoever without the permission of YHWH, so in that sense, even Satan’s actions are still within God’s plan (read carefully the opening of Job). Paul even mentions that his thorn in the flesh is “a messenger from Satan” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t used by God. I think that we give far too much power to the Accuser, as I result, I’m afraid, of a lot of mythology that has attached itself to biblical pictures.

      Secondly, the discussion with the Pharisees seems to me to be about the recognition of authority (or lack thereof), not about the proposition of an almost all-powerful evil force or person. I don’t think Satan plays nearly the larger role that we tend to give him, but of course, he is delighted that we give him such credibility. More later.

      • Gabe March 18, 2012 at 2:01 am

        I would agree. I’m just thinking of a few hardships in my life that I once framed as ‘arrows from the enemy’, but I can easily see as God circling me around to those situations until I learned the lesson I needed to learn.

  • carl roberts March 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    G-d is Sovereign. (please, check yes or no..) ~ Shall we accept good from G-d, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said ~ (Job 2.10)
    Now ‘personally’- I’ll have to agree, – why didn’t Noah kill those two mosquitoes that entered the Ark of Safety? And speaking of things that irritate- the pollen flow here in the deep South is coming on like gangbusters.. (yes Doris, -little things do mean a lot!) From major trouble to minor irritations- our Master-Teacher has forewarned: ~ in this world (the one most of us are now living in!)- you (me and you) will have tribulation.. Well? Did He (or rather doesn’t He always) tell the truth? Seen any trouble lately? Draw near that I may laugh upon your lapel- oh yes!- and “double up on the amen!” If I had any Hebrew in me at all (and I do!) I might even add an additional “oy!” lol!
    And now for the “rest” of the tHis-story.. “but be of good cheer, for I have (already) overcome the world..”
    But, but, But! -(I love this immense and intense Bible word!)- what did our Savior, our Deliver- our Redeemer-our Friend-our Elder Brother and our Master-Teacher say? He said.. (are we listening?- and are we ready to “finally” listen? What brand bunker-buster bomb does it take to penetrate people? He said.. (the Source of every good and perfect gift!) -He said, “but be of good cheer I have (already) overcome the world! ~ (John 16.63)
    ~ NO(!),-in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us ~ (Romans 8.37) – and friends and family, He (now) is able to save completely those who come to G-d through Him, because He always (and forever) lives to intercede for them ~ Hallelujah!- What a Savior!

  • LaVaye Billings March 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm


  • LaVaye Billings March 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Carl, it is John 16:33—- L..B.

  • carl roberts March 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    thanks L.B. – written in haste this a.m.!

  • Shirley Hoster March 17, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Sometimes you use a Hebrew word that some of us do not remember. It would be nice to have a reference page of the translation.

    • Skip Moen March 18, 2012 at 3:58 am

      I’ll try to do that, but you can always search the word on my web site.

      • Michael and Arnella March 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        Speaking of “it would be nice”… IWBN if you could add to your TW the actual Hebrew fonts for those who read Hebrew. The transliterations are great for those of us who don’t yet read Hebrew, but I notice that my wife often stumbles at them and has to take time to reformat it back into Hebrew. As a struggling Hebrew student I can see where it would be an added step for those who are fluent in Hebrew. I know that would add to your labor, but it may bear more fruit in the long run as we could readily identify the root word. (IWBN#2) I suppose the same would apply to the Greek 🙂 Either way, keep up the good work. Shalom from Jamaica.

        • Skip Moen March 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

          The problem is the transmission of the material to others. Since TW is not sent as PDF, unless someone has the Hebrew and Greek fonts, the text will just look like little boxes or worse. So I have elected not to do this on purpose. Sorry. If there is a way for me to give you Hebrew or Greek in a format that doesn’t create this problem – and doesn’t require a great deal more time on my side – then I will gladly entertain it.

  • Robin March 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Good word…..It amazes me that scriptures like Joel 2:25 are used to get people all hyped up and excited about restoration…but they don’t quote the whole verse…the last sentence

    “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm–my great army that I sent among you

    We forget that nothing happens unless G-d allows it…always for our good for He is good.

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