Have you ever been whacked by something…or someone? I’m sure it has happened. It is unpleasant. Yet, it gets our attention.
When chosen by God, it seems that we get whacked by circumstance(s). Messiah said, “In this world you will have trouble/tribulation, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” (Jn. 16:33).
In this world we will have “thlipsis”: pressure, troubles, pressing, tribulation. In ancient medical texts, thlipsis was the pressure producing the pulse: the blood “pressure.” It is the squeezing, the emotional weight of circumstance pressing upon us. It’s from a root meaning “to break.”
And in some court cases, thlipsis was applied to those “needing” to confess by setting enormous weight on the chest, often leading to their death … by crushing! … broken they were indeed.
Our English word tribulation is derived from the Latin tribulum. In Roman times the tribulum was an instrument used to whack wheat in order to separate the grain from the husks. The tribulum was an instrument of separation: the good from the junk, so to speak.
The “whacking” or tribulum, is a vision of the threshing floor. The place of separation, and gathering. The sorrows, anger, bitterness, sinful inclination, fear, apathy, whatever is not of godliness is removed by those times of tribulum, or tribulation of the inner and outer man (Heb. 12:6). The good of the reformation by His hand is then conformed more to the image of Messiah (Ro. 8:29).
Paul encourages us: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Ro. 5:1-5).
James echos this: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (Jas. 1:2-4).
Whack! Then rejoice!
The entire first epistle of Peter is addressed to those enduring the whacking of reformation, the tribulum, or thlipsis; and Peter rests his case on chosenness in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus.
Yet we endure: by His grace; His mercy; His love. The whacking is preparation. Preparation to endure, to minister, to praise, and rest in Him.
“The whack” removes the junk, reveals the treasure, and continually reminds us that Messiah has already “overcome the world.” So in that, we take heart, knowing that the whacking, even from the hand of the enemy, is being worked together by our loving Father, for our good (Ro. 8:28), to His glory through us.
Be well. Shalom.