Christ and his closest followers have always known better. Jesus told his disciples that they would have to take up their crosses. Paul just accepted that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." And Peter knew that part of what Christians have been called to is suffering.
Within the last several years, I've decided that the people I respect the most are those who live in hope, deeply knowing the inseparable link between joy and pain; people who, living with the realities of the here and now, do not allow the sad or even tragic parts of life to bring on a permanent sense of ruin, as though God had nothing left to say; people who recognize that sometimes doing the will of God doesn't bring you health and wealth, but instead brings poverty and a cross.
Yes, all of the people I respect the most are tried and true Christians, brothers and sisters who have lived this Way for a long time.
Some of the most disadvantaged people I've ever known also happened to be the most joyful and hopeful. They have always lifted my spirits, not merely because of their attitudes, but because they serve to remind me that there is another spirit at work in our world besides the self-centered spirit of our age.
Linda Smith, my sister and friend, was one of those people. She died last Sunday and I've been sad all week because I loved her so and can't believe I won't get to hear her laugh down here ever again.
Maybe sometime I'll tell you more about her. But until then, make the time to be good and godly to somebody. It will do them good and bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.