I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage – I have conquered the world.”
[John 16:33 NET]
The word tribulation is very suggestive. It comes from a root which means ‘a flail’. The thresher uses the flail to beat the wheat sheaves, that he may separate the golden wheat from the chaff and straw.
Tribulation is God’s threshing–not to destroy us, but to get what is good, heavenly, and spiritual in us–separated from what is wrong, earthly, and fleshly. Nothing less than blows of pain will do this. The evil so strongly clings to the good; the golden wheat of goodness in us is so closely wrapped up in the strong chaff of sin, that only the heavy flail of suffering can produce the separation!
Suffering is like John the Baptist, wearing grim garments, with stern visage and rough hands and a baptism of bitter tears, uttering sharp, harsh words, going before Christ to prepare us for his gentle coming and his message of love. Many of us would never enter the gates of pearl–were it not for this unwelcome messenger, pain.