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Afflicted with Pain and Adversity

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Afflicted with Pain and Adversity

According to researchers of the Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet at Mainz, a certain species of European ant has discovered the fountain of youth. The species they’ve been studying is the Temnothorax nylanderi, a small red ant that measures only two to three millimeters in length. Typically, the queen of any ant species can live for several decades. But the workers – all of them daughters of the queen – will only last a fraction of that time, sometimes as little as a few weeks. But some workers of the T. nylanderi can reach ages that rival that of their queen. 

How is this possible? How is their life extended many times longer than their normal short-lived sisters? The answer is not a pleasant one. Their extreme longevity is caused by a parasitic infection. They’re infected with the larvae of a species of tapeworm. Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it? 

How does this parasite have such a beneficial effect on the worker ants? The researchers do not yet fully understand. They suspect that these infected ants receive more care and food than their uninfected sisters or that the infection affects their metabolism. But these answers cannot fully explain the mystery. For the T. nylanderi workers are genetically configured to live a maximum of only two years. Yet carrying around this parasite (Anomotaenia brevis) extends their lives to twenty. 

Nor can human logic explain the mystery of God’s methods to make us holy and prepare us for eternity with Him. Why does God allow tragedy, painful setbacks, and burdensome responsibilities in our lives? We don’t fully understand why, but trust His promises that God works all these things together for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20; Deuteronomy 23:5). Yet still in our minds we tend to view God’s discipline as some sort of parasitic infection, as something that brings us down and is sure to harm us. 

But God’s loving discipline, as unpleasant as it is for the moment, is conforming us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Hebrews 12:4-11). God’s discipline is making us fit to spend eternity with Christ in heaven and to enjoy all its joys and glory. If a parasite can make an ant live ten times longer, then God’s prescribed discipline can make us live eternally. “For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory which far exceeds the pain” (2 Corinthians 4:17). 

PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, help me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and to always remember what He endured whenever I suffer affliction. Though I cannot fully understand Your methods to save me and make me holy, help me to trust in Your promises and remain faithful unto death. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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