Affliction can harden us, and affliction can melt us—just as heat hardens clay and melts wax. The same input can cause two completely different results.
And you can see this in people. Some people who, when they go through hard times, get hard. Others go through difficulties and it only makes them more tender. Obviously, the latter is God’s intention and desire for His people.
This means that when we see a trial coming, there is a way of bracing yourself that gets the wrong result. This is one of the reasons why the Bible tells us to count it all joy when we meet various trials. When a trial is approaching, you should smile at it at say, “Hello, old friend.” There is a welcome mat out—and not because you are a masochist.
But if you tense for the blow, if you flinch, if you harden yourself to protect yourself, you find there is a way of doing this that doesn’t really protect you anyway, and only makes the damage from the affliction more permanent than it needed to be.
Another way of saying this is that God wants us to roll with it. He wants us to see that He has a perfect intention and purpose in what is happening to us, and because His plans are always perfect, we can simply accept them in trust.
There is no person in this room without troubles. But there are some here who have not yet made friends with those troubles—for after all, a friend sent them.