The Christian's tribulation—an occasion for rejoicing?

In ancient Rome a heavy threshing implement was often used at harvest time. It was a sledge studded with iron teeth and was dragged across the ground to separate the chaff from the wheat. The Romans called it a tribulum.

Some Bible commentators have seen a lesson in this image as it relates to the challenges the early Christians faced. The word tribulation is derived from the Latin tribulum. It signifies more than just burden, sufferings, or persecution. Tribulation can be an opportunity for purification.

Writing to the Christians at Rome, the Apostle Paul spoke of faith, peace, grace, and hope. Then, as the King James Version translates, Paul declared, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. ..." Rom. 5:3. J. B. Phillips has translated the passage in this way: "... we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us."

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Holding God's hand
January 6, 1986

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