Adapted from: Handbook to Spiritual Growth
OUR HOPE IN AFFLICTION
Imagine a world where people’s problems cease at the moment they put their faith in Christ. They suddenly become immune to bodily ailments, they enjoy complete harmony in their personal and professional relationships, and success and affluence are theirs for the asking. Actually, this trouble-free state of affairs is not far from the scenario touted by the peddlers of the “prosperity gospel.”
It may sound good at first, but consider a few of the implications. They may trust Christ for their salvation, but it would be extremely difficult for them not to look to the world for everything else. Because there are no obstacles, they would soon take God for granted and presume upon His grace; their prayers would become more like conjuring tricks than acknowledgments of love and dependence on the Lord. And since everything goes “their way,” it would be almost impossible for them to cultivate true Christian character (which is almost always developed in the context of adversity).
Far from promising a life of ease and prosperity, the New Testament affirms that those who follow Christ will face a new dimension of obstacles and struggles that they did not know before they committed their lives to Him. But in the midst of this, we have hope. At the end of His last discourse to His disciples, Jesus assured them, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).