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From a blog post by Doug Wilson on 12/8/12:

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.

We must understand that James 1:2-3 is not a clever way of pepping yourself up to get through the hard times; a cliché to throw around to make us feel better, until it’s gone. Then, “Phew, glad that’s over!” until the next one comes along. It’s practical. Let if affect you and change the way you not only react to, but prepare for, the troubles we see in this life.

As we understand Sovereignty, let’s also accurately understand these troubles, lest we forget:

…after all, a friend sent them.