In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33b (KJV)
John 16:33 reminds us of two important truths. The first truth is that, as Christians we’re going to face some hard stuff. The word tribulation (and the word it’s translated from) means “severe affliction, distresses of life.” Biblically speaking, it is derived from the laborious act of threshing wheat. There were different methods used at different points in time, but they all had one thing in common: it was back-breaking work for the laborer and it was a harsh and relentless drubbing for the wheat. Whether we compare ourselves to the laborer or the wheat, tribulation is a highly unpleasant, and often painful, experience that will test our faith and our spiritual fortitude.
It is an inevitable part of the Christian life that we will face trials and tribulations of various kinds and degrees throughout our life. If we were to look at the timeline of our lives as a landscape, we would see a series of peaks (good times) and valleys (trials and tribulations). As I often tell my Bible study class, we are either in the middle of a trial, coming out of one, or one is headed our way. We are headed for a valley whether we want to or not. It would be great if we could just stand still on the mountain top, but life just keeps moving forward anyway.
The question is, then, are you spiritually prepared for whatever the next valley holds? How well you prepare yourself on the mountain tops will determine how hard it will be to navigate through the valleys. Now, I understand no one wants to go through life looking over their shoulder for some tragedy. That would zap the joy right out of life, and that’s definitely not what God wants for us (see John 10:10, 15:11). Rather, spiritual preparation involves the things you do on a daily basis to draw closer to God. Just like with any sport, the way you practice is the way you will perform during game time. If you’re walking closely with God in your daily life on the mountain top, it will be easier for you to lean on Him in the valley.
In the next post, I will give you some specific things to do to prepare yourself while living on the mountain tops. If you find yourself in the middle of a valley, they will be the footholds you use to climb out.
 An American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “tribulation,” accessed May 24, 2017, http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/tribulation.