Pastor Paul Schneider was a pastor in Germany before the 2nd world war broke . He was a young man in his 30s, pastoring a prominent church in the city, while he began to speak out against what he saw as the impending doom of the church in Germany. This is because, Hitler’s totalitarian agenda had been slowly spreading through Germany and he demanded homage from all including the church. Pastors who wouldn’t accept Hitler’s role as Head of the church of Germany faced dire consequences. Having been warned by many and even his superiors to dial down his criticism against Hitler’s growing atrocities, he was somewhat demoted as he transferred to a rural congregation. Yet even in this congrergation his continued his defiance against Hitler and disciplined any church member that was participating in the Nazi party. Then it happened. Without any warning the Gestapo showed up in the middle of the night to arrest him. He had multiple opportunities to go free. In fact , after a couple of months of his first arrest he was let go, and banned from Germany, but he knew he couldn’t desert his congregation so he went right back. He was subsequently arrested and never released, but instead was executed by lethal injection a year after.
The amazing thing about Pastor Paul was that though he went through such severe tribulation he never stopped encouraging people. He was always encouraging his fellow prisoners to turn to God, when they tried to silence him by putting him in solitary confinement, he could be heard yelling from his solitary confinement window, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. While in prison he was able to get some letters out to his congregations, and as well there was a marked tone of joy that he had, as he encouraged them to not give in but stand for Christ in all things.
Acts 14:22 [kjv]
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Tribulation means intense difficulty or pressure exerting such force on the one or thing its acting upon, causing excruciating sorrow or pain.
This doesn’t sound appealing and in fact it’s something we all want to stay as far away from as possible. Yet this is how Paul says we must enter into the kingdom of God.
Pastor Schneider went through tribulation didn’t he? I know the state of our society is not like what it was in Germany at that time, or when Paul was persecuted in Galatia, yet we are still called to go through tribulations if we want to see the glory of God.
The question is are we willing to pay the price, if and when that time comes?
See, I believe Paul the Apostle wanted us to know that if we will pay the price upfront, that is endure much suffering now, then we know our faith is tested and having been proven, we will surely not be among the ones left behind to face the Great Tribulation.
Are you saying Pastor, God wants us to go through tribulations? Yes, he does. I believe the question is not that will we go through tribulation, it’s simply how will we go through it?
Understanding that we are called to suffer tribulations will give us supernatural strength to go through life’s affairs, form in us a longing for eternity as well as among other things bear in us the precious fruit of joy.
See, Pastor Paul was empowered by God to face the Nazi regime. With the support of his wife, his children safe with relatives he came back to Germany and was ready to take a stand for truth. He wasn’t worried about bills, budgets and necessary duties, he knew God would be their strength and supply. Are you over burdened by anxiety today? Thinking about the future, or the woes of this past year? As difficult as these are, they pale in comparison with the tribulations Acts speaks about that come upon those who are pursuing the kingdom. It could be that your lack of lustre in life is simply because of a lack of vision that comes with an eternal perspective. It’s not that God does not want us to take care of earthly business, but simply to allow his strength to be your ability through it all. Receive strength today, knowing that true strength comes from focusing on his kingdom and not fearing things of this world.
Not only was Pastor Paul empowered by God, knowing that this trial would probably lead to his death, he had a longing for eternity and thus was filled with joy.
See, during his time in prison, though beaten by his captors he wouldn’t be silent. He would preach from the window of his solitary cell to inmates encouraging them to turn to the Lord, and not to be afraid of death. He had his eye on the prize. Such was his gaze on heaven that joy overflowed. This was noted by the letters he wrote to encourage his congregations, which are with us today. As you read them you will be struck by how much he was possessed with God’s joy.
Friends, tribulation will come to all of us, the only questions is will we endure it with joy? So that we will be like the five wise virgins, and not be swept away with by the tide of indifference that is gripping so many today, which will ultimately cause them to be like the five foolish virgins who will be left behind to face God’s wrath.
– Pastor Olu Jegede