For people living in a culture of rampant ungodliness, following Jesus is more likely to bring affliction than applause. That much is as true in our own day as it was in Paul’s, as it has been for much of recorded history. But for the follower of Jesus, affliction is the seed of joy.
That affliction and joy can co-exist, that one can result in the other, is one of the beautiful paradoxical realities of the Christian life. So much effort is spent avoiding affliction, and yet the writers of scripture remind us repeatedly that affliction cannot be avoided. What’s more, we are told that affliction is an instrument of sanctification.
Suffering well is a sign of steadfast faith and serves as a vibrant witness to those looking on. If we believe that affliction is an instrument of sanctification, we will cease our efforts to always avoid it and begin instead to rejoice in it, believing the promise that God really does work all things for good.
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