In the natural world human infants are closely cosseted for many months.
Not so in the spiritual realm: the new Christian will shortly find himself tried: faith must be tried.
It is absurd to imagine faith without trials. It would be like raising an army during a war and leaving the soldiers to relax in their barracks while the battles raged around them.
After being converted on the Damascus road the apostle Paul soon found himself thrust well-and-truly in at the deep end, to the hazard of his life. He was happy about it.
Why was he happy about it?
The apostle Paul was happy about his afflictions in the gospel because he had his priorities right. If we have our priorities right we will also be happy if we suffer affliction for Christ's sake.
'...IF YE SUFFER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE, HAPPY ARE YE: AND BE NOT AFRAID OF THEIR TERROR, NEITHER BE TROUBLED.' (1Peter 3: 14).
In wars in this world men are awarded medals for valour. In the spiritual warfare we are also awarded medals, but not metal ones. If Christ had medals they were his stripes - his wounds and the experiences which gave them to him.
The apostles' awards and the awards of every suffering Christian are the persecutions themselves. They are gifts from a loving God.
'AND THEY DEPARTED FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE COUNCIL, REJOICING THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME FOR HIS NAME.' (Acts 5:41).
There are two kinds of Christian: the kind that rejoices in persecution for Christ's sake, and the kind that doesn't.
The kind that doesn't rejoice in persecution has his eye and his affections set on this world.
The kind which does rejoice in persecution has his eye on eternity. On Christ.
Which kind are you?
Which kind am I?
One thing's for sure - the day will tell.
But don't be a fool: don't leave it till then to find out that you've been deceiving yourself for all eternity. Don't leave it till it's too late. Don't leave it till you find yourself like the rich man in hell cursing his stupidity - or even worse - after a life spent preaching to others find yourself burning in that very hell which you warned others of (or should have been).
Don't be a fool: don't presume - be sure - make sure.