Thlipsis and Doxa
These two words are not simply a couple bad names for a new hamster, they are foundational words that pertain to our faith:
Tribulation and Glory
Granted the word tribulation brings up end times debates and itself is a word that is rarely used. Furthermore, when we accompany it with “glory”, an overused word for religious people who don’t like the thought of tribulation, I may seem like I am trying to confuse you rather than encourage you.
So, here goes. Let us expand tribulation to mean pain, suffering, pressure and being afflicted somehow or another. When we follow Jesus, our lives are (or should be) directed by different set of principles, morals, values, and goals, that pertain to God’s kingdom. All of these will be counter cultural, so when we try and live them out or when we go through something in the world, we will feel the pressure of this difference. It might take the form of pressure at work or school when you don’t partake in gossip or slander, but in fact stand up for it. It might mean that you continue to outwardly hope and trust in a good God, when cancer claims another loved one, and all those around you ask, “What kind of a God let this happen?”. There are many forms of this pressure and trouble. However, behind the scenes, and more accurately, at the centre of who you are, God is working out a counter cultural revealing of how powerful and brilliant God really is. For during the “thlipsis” you are going through God’s weight or substance of Glory is being amassed to be revealed one day; as if God one day will reveal through what you have gone through that His love, purposes and faithfulness could not be stopped by the afflictions of this world. It may be in your lifetime, it may be at another time, but assuredly we can trust the Bible when it says that Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), and we are one with Him and his overcoming (Gal. 2:20). So, the encouragement is this. No matter the trouble and affliction you are going through, be patient (Rom. 12:12), it is developing endurance in you (Rom. 5:8), and God’s love can still be found in the midst of it (Rom. 8:35). And what is more, the hope and glory that will be revealed through what we have endured will be understood and celebrated at the centre of who we are, by the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul declare: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
May the strength and counsel of the Holy Spirit guide in this.