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God's Provision in Tribulation

Posted on January 28, 2018

God’s Provision in Tribulation

John 16:16 – 33

Scripture Reading

Psalm 20:1-5

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 3 May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah 4 May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans!5 May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

Introduction: Have you ever had a day like this teacher did?

Did you hear the Texas tall tale about the teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his cowboy boots? He asked for help, and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn't want to go on. By the time they got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, "Teacher, they're on the wrong feet." She looked, and sure enough, they were.

It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. He then announced, "These aren't my boots." She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, "Why didn't you say so?"

Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, "They're my brother's boots. My mom made me wear 'em." Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry, but she mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again.

Helping him into his coat, she asked, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed 'em in the toes of my boots." - Submitted by John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Purpose: Every Christ follower must go through trials and tribulations not to be sorrowful but be transformed into joy!

Transition: We are going to talk about how God provides for us in the midst of the storms of life. We will have plenty of trials and tribulations in this life yet to come. We have experienced many as well. God wants us to find joy even in the midst of those difficult times as we understand we have overcome the world.

We are now back in John’s Gospel. Please turn there to chapter 16:16 and let me take a quick moment to review the key verse and purpose of this Gospel as we preach through the remaining part of the book until the end of April when we complete it. I last preached from John 16 back on November 12th so it has been a good while since we were going verse by verse through the book. 


Key Verse: John 20:31

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Purpose of the Gospel of John: To reveal Jesus Christ as the Messiah through signs and teachings in order to persuade His audience to believe on His name for abundant and eternal life.

Transition: Now look at John 16:16 – 19 as Jesus talks about in the last teachings of His Upper Room Discourse;

The Preparation for the change of roles that will bring joy -  John 16:16 – 19

  • Jesus instructions to His disciples shifted at this point from His prediction of the coming Holy Spirit and what that would like to the immediate future that the disciples would face in the coming hours. Jesus wanted to prepare them for that
  • Someday soon Jesus would reappear to His disciples but not before they would witness and experience sorrow, pain, and their own lack of faith as they forsook Jesus first.
  • After that prayer, the Word and peace that brings joy would come to them.
  • Read the text
  • The confusion

John 16:16 - 18

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”

  • “A little while and you will see me no longer” is a confusing statement as we try to get the context of what Jesus is saying.
    • Did Jesus refer (a) to the coming of the Holy Spirit or (b) to His Second Advent or (c) to His brief, 40-day ministry between His resurrection and His Ascension? The last interpretation fits this passage best.
    • It is apparent that the disciples were confused by the time interval
      • The language here shows they were dialoguing among themselves to try to understand what Jesus meant
      • Only after His death would they begin to comprehend the meaning of these words.
      • The comprehension

John 16:19

19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?

  • As Jesus comes back and picks up the discussion with his bewildered disciples, He, being the Master Teacher knew that over time, the disciples would figure this out.

Hebrews 10:37

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay

  • They would not overcome their sorrow, their anguish, their despair and hopelessness immediately
  • Imagine if you were one of these disciples and had gone through what they had experienced. They left all of their former life behind for a heavenly, not an earthly kingdom
  • Then witnessing the torture and death of the one they followed, their hopes and dreams were destroyed before their very eyes.
  • It would take the Holy Spirit coming and for them to gather in prayer and discussion to put all the pieces together and be emboldened to declare the Gospel in the streets of Jerusalem.

Application: To experience the joy of the Lord you must have the Holy Spirit

Transition: Have you ever noticed it is the darkest in the middle of the night just before the dawn of the sun? So, it can be in our lives from time to time.

The Promise of fullness of joy – John 16:20 – 33

  • Joy in the middle of tribulation

 John 16:20-22

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

  • Jesus warns and prepares the disciples of their impending sorrow due to His death. He is quick to give them the hope of joy at the end of their sorrow
  • He gives them a great illustration of how it will appear to them
    • Jesus uses the analogy of His death / resurrection like that of a woman who is pregnant, giving birth with pain but receiving joy at the birth of the baby. She forgets about the pain that produced her child
    • The principle is simply this: God brings joy to our lives, not by substitution, but by transformation. His illustration of the woman giving birth makes this clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy. In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother’s pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it. - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 363). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
    • Every parent knows what it is like to have an unhappy child because a toy is broken or a playmate has gone home. The parent can do one of two things: substitute something else for the broken toy or absent friend, or transform the situation into a new experience for the unhappy child. If Mother always gets a new toy for the child each time a toy is broken, that child will grow up expecting every problem to be solved by substitution. If Mother always phones another playmate and invites him or her over, the child will grow up expecting people to come to his rescue whenever there is a crisis. The result either way is a spoiled child who will not be able to cope with reality.
    • The way of substitution for solving problems is the way of immaturity. The way of transformation is the way of faith and maturity. We cannot mature emotionally or spiritually if somebody is always replacing our broken toys.
    • Jesus did not say that the mother’s sorrow (pain) was replaced by joy, but that the sorrow was transformed into joy. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy!
    • To the mother experiencing birth pains, every minute may seem an hour. Our concept of time changes with our feelings. Thirty minutes in the dentist chair may seem like hours, while hours fishing or dining with friends may seem like a very short time. The mother feels as though the birth is taking a long time, when really it may be only “a little while.” When the baby has been born, pain is forgotten as joy fills her heart.
    • And so, it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trial into triumph and sorrow into joy. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 363–364). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Deuteronomy 23:5

“The Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing”

  • What are the healthy spiritual and sometimes even physical and emotional benefits of facing trials and tribulation?
    • Builds character qualities in your life that you would not build most likely without the pressure of suffering – James 1:2-4; Romans 5:
    • Live in the presence of the Lord
      • God often woos us and draws us to Himself if all the distractions of life are at work in our lives.
      • He sometimes takes all of that away to simplify our lives and get our attention
      • The Bible talks about removing the dross, the waste of our sinful nature and flesh to reveal the diamond in the rough we are.
      • To reveal more and more of Jesus in our lives and make us more and more dependent upon Him.
      • Trials bring changes so that we don’t just stay in our comfort zone.
      • To transform us into something new. Not the repackaged you but the new you that God wants to create in you.
      • Ultimately, this view of God’s working through trials and tribulations of life gives you and I hope for the future

Illustration: Personal illustration how work became my identity. Was who I am in Jesus enough for my identification or was I to measure my identity by what kind of job I had in life. I gained a whole new perspective on life I would never have had before.

Illustration of Joseph and David

  • Joseph 13 years
  • David 8 years
    • Even Jesus took the cross, a symbol of defeat and shame, and transformed it into a symbol of victory and glory. (cf. Rom. 6:9–10; Luke 24:33–52; Heb. 7:24–25).

Romans 6:9 – 10

9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

Hebrews 7:24 – 25

24 But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

  • While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God’s people as they await the coming of Jesus Christ. To us, it seems like a long wait; but God does not measure time as we do (see 2 Peter 3). But while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the basis of transformation and not substitution, if we expect to mature in the Christian life. - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 364). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

John 16:22

22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

  • Joy in having direct access to the Father
    • The upcoming events that the disciples would witness as Jesus was arrested, beaten, faced unjust trails, crucified and buried, would bring about a big change in the disciple’s relationship with Jesus.

John 16:23 – 25

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father

  • “In that day” referring to the Holy Spirit after He comes
  • The word ask in this section is referring to the disciples now going directly to the Father with their requests. With Jesus leaving they would have to connect directly to Father.
  • The word used here is that of a person asking of someone who is superior to them
  • Jesus never used this form of the word ask because he was equal with God.
  • Truly, truly, I say to you – an important statement is coming
  • Jesus was leaving but the disciples were about to learn about the power of prayer and how God listens to them and meets their every need
    • They would be His representatives to the world and they had a right to ask the Father for resources to carry out the work desired of them on earth
    • The use of the name of Jesus were not just a tag line at the end of a prayer. In Jesus name tied the requests to the work of the Son in doing the will of the Father. Now they would be working on Jesus behalf
    • Up to this point the disciples had not prayed in the name of Jesus. Now they are to do this since Jesus’ death and the Spirit’s coming would enable them to enter into God’s new program of the Church Age.
    • Answered prayer brings complete joy (cf. 15:11; 16:22) because God is at work in them.
    • What an amazing feeling to sense in your heart and seat of emotions that God is using you!! There is no other feeling like it!!
  • In verse 25, Jesus is setting them up to know that after the resurrection, He will speak plainly and simply to them and not in parables or figures of speech anymore
    • They would now be building a relationship with the Father directly through reading Scripture, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and prayer
    • The purpose of Bible study is NOT to gain more and more knowledge but to get to know God more
      • I daily read my Bible to get reminders. I am forgetful of spiritual things and getting into the Word daily gives us those constant reminders
      • Reading the Word daily impresses upon my heart what is most important for me to obey today!

John 16:26-28

26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

  • The coming new era, known as the Church Age would give the disciples intimacy with God which would empower them to bring about a new way of growing spiritually
    • The HS, the Word, prayer, church family
  • The disciples were not yet in a personal love and faith relationship with the Father. Only God’s children have access to their Heavenly Father.
  • Verse 27, the Father loves you. – Jesus was accepted before He did one ministry thing – His Baptism

Romans 5:2

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

John 16:28

28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

  • Jesus summarized His mission in one sentence: His Incarnation (I came from the Father), His humiliation (and entered the world), and His resurrection, Ascension, and exaltation (now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father). This is what the disciples had come to believe.


  • Joy in the peace that the Holy Spirit brings

John 16:29 – 33

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”

  • The disciples give a strong affirmation to their faith. This faith was genuine but was incomplete and had blind spots. As they would soon see, within hours of this declaration, they would forsake the fact they were followers of Jesus and be scattered.
  • Let’s not be too hard on the disciples here because many, if not all of us had we been in that situation would have done the very same thing.
  • We will see in the next chapter (John 17:6-8) in Jesus High Priestly prayer He will share the spiritual condition of the disciples with His Father as He prays for them
  • Jesus answered their declaration of faith

John 16:31-32

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

  • In verse 32, Jesus is alluding to Zechariah 13:7 of the prediction the disciples would flee Him
  • Jesus said you will leave me alone but I am not alone because the Father is with me
    • He would later say God forsook Him
    • He would say at His ascension that He would never leave or forsake His disciples – Matthew 28:20
    • Jesus concludes His Upper Room Discourse with this final declaratory statement that gives you and I great hope.

John 16:33

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

  • The purpose of the Upper Room Discourse is summed up here in verse 33
    • These teachings will sustain Him
    • Give them peace in Christ
    • Note the contrast in verse 33
      • In me (Jesus) you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation
      • Would you rather have the peace of God in the storm or the removal of the storm without the peace of God?
      • Cheer up, take heart, be courageous, we have overcome the world because Jesus first overcame the world for us!!
        • Each believer either overcomes the world or the world overcomes them

 I John 5:4

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Romans 8:37

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Application: Joy is experienced and grows because of the deepening relationship with the Father

Key Thought: Joy is not the absence of suffering but the transforming of sorrow by God into joy. 

  • Believers have a dual existence: they are in Christ and in this world. In union with Jesus, His disciples have peace, but the world exerts a hostile pressure. The world system, the enemy of God and His people, opposed Jesus’ message and ministry (cf. 1:5, 10; 7:7). But Jesus won the victory over the system; He has overcome the world. As the “strong man” who came and ruined Satan’s kingdom (Matt. 12:25–29), Jesus is the Victor. Jesus wanted the disciples to remember this fact and to rejoice in His victory.
  • There is joy when we permit God to transform sorrow into joy. There is joy when God answers prayer. There is joy when we overcome the world.
  • Let there be joy!

Three Questions to Ponder this Week

  1. Are we all in when it comes to God bringing joy through the sorrow and pain of trials and tribulations knowing it is ultimately for our good
  2. 2.     Are you content with God giving you peace as you go through the storms of life or do you want God to just remove the storms without giving you His peace?
  3. 3.    Are you overcoming the world or is the world overcoming you?

Closing Option #1 / Illustration: In this age, God rescues his people from some harm. Not all harm. That’s comforting to know, because otherwise we might conclude from our harm that he has forgotten us or rejected us.

So be encouraged by the simple reminder that in Acts 16:19–24, Paul and Silas were not delivered, but in verses 25–26, they were.

First, no deliverance:

“They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace.” (verse 19)

“The magistrates tore the garments off them.” (verse 22)

They “inflicted many blows upon them.” (verse 23)

The jailer “fastened their feet in the stocks.” (verse 24)

But then, deliverance:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God . . . and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (verses 25–26)

God could have stepped in sooner. He didn’t. He has his reasons. He loves Paul and Silas.

Question for you: If you plot your life along this continuum of Paul’s initial suffering and later deliverance, where are you? Are you in the stripped-and-beaten stage, or the unshackled, door-flung-open stage?

Both are God’s stages of care for you. He has not left you or forsaken you (Hebrews 13:5).

If you are in the fettered stage, don’t despair. Sing. Freedom is on the way. It is only a matter of time. Even if it comes through death. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Closing Option #2

“It’s not the suffering that glorifies God, but a godly attitude in the suffering that pleases Him and brings glory to Him.” – Joyce Meyer – Battlefield of the Mind

“I have discovered that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” – Joyce Meyer – Battlefield of the Mind

Let’s Pray