Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV)
Since Christ has promised tribulation in this world, I should not be surprised when it happens nor should I be caught with my hands in my pockets. I don't need to go looking for trouble or have this burning desire to get beat up verbally or physically. However, I must prepare myself for the assualts and thorns. And when they do come, I am to embrace the fellowship that I experience with my Lord and His sufferings (Phil. 3:10) and count it a privilege that I may hurt on Christ's behalf remembering that my reward is awaiting my homecoming (Matt. 5:11-12).
For me, the real question is how to prepare. I don't think the apostles would have encouraged me to shade my eyes, hunch over and cower as I walk through large crowds. Developing extreme paranoia—suspecting everyone and every situation—is not helpful either.
So what should I do? Here's my list:
1. Don't go to sleep. Be "prayerfully" alert and discerning of what's happening around me. I get caught off guard too often. The instantaneous shock takes me by surprise, and don't have an appropriate response for the hope and faith that is within me.
2. Don't be afraid. Remember that God will never leave me or forsake me. He will strengthen me for every challenge. This strength is given to me so that I would continue to unswervingly trust and obey my Lord in all things, and not compromise out of fear. And if worse comes to worse, what can anyone ultimately do to me? End my life? And what happens after that? I will go to be in the very presence of the One who has loved me with an everlasting love. This isn't losing. This is winning.
3. Don't lose sight of God's greatness and power. It will only be through constant meditation on the Word of God that I will keep in proper perspective the troubles here which are small, and the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ which is so much greater.
4. Don't get too tough. When I'm about ready to be tackled, my tendency is to toughen up for the hit. That's okay for the moment, but I can't walk around all the time with an uncaring, hard heart. I need to be sensitive to those around me—even those who are pounding me at that particular moment. I've been called and empowered to love as Christ loved His enemies.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:5-8 ESV)