Troubles—in all their myriad forms—are a part of life. The best that we can do is to brace and prepare ourselves for the troubles that we will surely experience.
IGLESIA NI CRISTO members or not, people experience problems in life. This fact has led one into the erroneous thinking that since members of the Church Of Christ also encounter problems, then there really is no point in joining or remaining in the Church. While it is true that even Iglesia Ni Cristo members are not immune to the problems that plague this present life, it doesn’t mean that there is no benefit in joining the Church. The truth is, membership in the Church Of Christ is the key to correctly deal with life’s woes and, above all, end them.
God’s reminder for His people
Through the apostles, God reminds us that we should not consider it strange if we suffer painful trials, thus:
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (I Pet. 4:12 New International Version)
We are reminded as such because “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7 NIV). Thus, troubles—in all their myriad forms—are a part of life. Hence, we should not be puzzled when they come our way. Instead, the best that we can do is to brace and prepare ourselves for the troubles that we will surely experience. In preparing ourselves for the troubles in life, it is vital that we do not forget God’s warning that “the world … will collapse and never rise again” (Isa. 24:20 Good News Bible).
Thus, we should consider in our preparation the truth that no matter what man does, this world is irreversibly headed to its destruction. This will take place on the “great day of the LORD” when “neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them” because “he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth” (Zeph. 1:14-15, 18 NIV). Therefore, man ought to prepare himself not just for the present woes but above all the sure punishment on the Day of Judgment.
No amount of money, no degree of earthly influence, and no bunch of worldly achievements can make one immune from the troubles in this life and more so, from the destruction that awaits this world. Clearly then, it is unwise to just prepare for the troubles in this life brought about by calamities, poverty, and violence, for example, but neglecting to find the way to be spared from destruction come the end of the world.
Mankind’s last hope
Through the Bible, God tells us that there is hope, thus:
“The time is coming when they will say to Jerusalem, ‘Do not be afraid, city of Zion! Do not let your hands hang limp! The LORD your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The LORD will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you, as joyful as people at a festival.’ The LORD says, ‘I have ended the threat of doom and taken away your disgrace’.” (Zeph. 3:16-18 GNB).
Zion is the last hope for mankind because it is to Zion that God promised victory and a new life. Hence, man must seek and enter Zion! Outside of Zion, there is no hope.
Zion, symbolically, refers to “the church, composed of all those registered in heaven; and … of the redeemed” (Heb. 12:23 Living Bible). Let us take note that it refers to a single church and not to a federation or collection of varied churches. This is the Church Of Christ, thus:
“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation)
Thus, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) is the last and only hope for mankind. Not because it is the savior or the redeemer but because it is that which Christ has redeemed and will save and to which God promised victory over death, grief, and pain and hence the glorious eternal life in the Holy City (Rev. 21:1-4 GNB). People, then, who are truly intent on being saved from punishment on the Day of Judgment ought to join and remain in the Church Of Christ—despite problems and sufferings.
The purpose of our suffering
The suffering that members of the Church Of Christ experience has a purpose, thus:
“Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Pet. 1:6-7 GNB)
Clearly, God allows His chosen people to experience suffering for them to prove that their faith is genuine. As we say, trials will show our true colors. Only when we have proven our faith genuine and true will we be considered worthy to receive praise and honor and glory—salvation—on the day of Christ’s return.
In order to prove that our faith is pure, we “need to be patient, in order to do the will of God and receive what he promises” (Heb. 10:36 GNB). Thus, patience is a must for a member of the Church Of Christ! We need to practice patience especially in the midst of trials, when it seems that the easy way out is to break God’s will, when what is being offered to us by the cohorts of Satan is sweet and tempting. Let us be reminded that when we are patient then we can do the will of God and receive His promises.
The right mindset
Even if problems are so difficult and overwhelming, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo will not stop believing that God is working for their welfare. We should never let go of this conviction. We should never give doubt a chance to destroy our faith. We ought to keep in mind the truth that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NIV).
However, not all sufferings come as trials. There are troubles that come our way because of our sins and God’s anger over our transgressions. In such a case, we must do what God’s servant of old did, thus:
“We have sinned against the LORD, so now we must endure his anger for a while.” (Mic. 7:9 GNB)
We should endure His anger and wait for His salvation. Hence, if anyone is suffering because of his disobedience, he should not become petulant and complain. Instead, he must acknowledge his misdeeds, repent, and wait for the grace of God.
Whatever problems we encounter in life, let us remain true members of the Church Of Christ. When we feel as if we could no longer go on, we only have to remember and hold on to the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, thus:
“I am telling you the truth: you will cry and weep, but the world will be glad; you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into gladness. That is how it is with you: now you are sad, but I will see you again, and your hearts will be filled with gladness, the kind of gladness that no one can take away from you.” (John 16:20, 22 GNB)
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine, November 2017 issue.