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Few things fortify the soul against Satan’s deception like watching another Christian suffer with persevering faith. When we watch others walk through the valley of the shadow of death with purpose and joy in God, through ups and downs, their faithfulness and endurance inspire fresh hopefulness and vigilance. Elisabeth Elliot has been that kind of person for me (and countless others).
She married again after sixteen years, only to lose her second husband, Addison, less than four years later, to cancer. Some have suffered more, to be sure, but not most of us. And few have championed the precious good God can do through the terrible facts in our lives like Elisabeth did. Her testimony reminds me of another sufferer, the apostle Paul, who endured sorrow after sorrow with great joy and enduring faith.
Prison - Detour - Paul - Anyone - Christians
Prison was no detour for Paul. While anyone, even Christians, might have been prone to pity him, he saw the startling potential in his imprisonment. The worst hardships, he knew, were often the greatest highways for the gospel. He writes, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me” — wrongfully arrested, incarcerated, and left for dead (Philippians 1:20) — “has really served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). The gospel did not survive his imprisonment, but prospered while he suffered — no, because he suffered.
None of us naturally responds this way to suffering. Unexpected turbulence in life does not naturally overflow in bright hope and selfless love. Apart from grace, suffering makes us impatient, selfish, and despairing. We withdraw, turn inward, and are less concerned with (or even aware of) the needs of others. We often cannot see beyond the darkness we feel.
Grace - God - Impulses - Distraction - Inconvenience
But the grace of God goes to work to create the opposite impulses, especially in suffering. Suffering was not a distraction, inconvenience,...
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