Verse for today – “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory (Eph. 3:13).”
Have you ever been discouraged because of someone else’s suffering? It is hard to see someone suffer! How much more difficult it must be when that man or woman’s problems come because of you! That is the situation in today’s verse. The Ephesians loved Paul. He spent more than 2 years in their city, preaching, teaching, and healing. The book of Acts tells us that God was performing extraordinary miracles among the Ephesians through the hands of Paul (Acts 19:10-20). But now, as Paul writes this letter, he is in prison because of his preaching to the Gentiles; it would be easy for them to be discouraged by Paul’s trials. The Greek word for “losing heart” in today’s verse could also be translated, “to become utterly spiritless,” “to be wearied out,” or “to become exhausted.” Watching a friend suffer because of you could easily do those things; but Paul asks the Ephesians not to let it happen. Paul says, “my tribulations on your behalf… are your glory.” What could he mean by this?
The answer is that Paul’s suffering and trials, just like those of Jesus Christ, show the Gentiles how valuable they are to Paul and to God. God loved us all enough to send His Son, and then to send His apostles (including Paul), and now to send us into the world! Suffering can be a display of love!
Sometime ago I heard about 2 friends fighting in a terrible war. One of them was badly wounded and trapped in the crossfire of the 2 opposing armies. His friend, Jim, asked permission to go pull him out of danger, but the sergeant said no! Jim went anyway, and brought back his friend, even though he was already dead. When he returned his sergeant exclaimed: “Why did you do it, Jim? There was no hope for your friend and now YOU are mortally wounded. It wasn’t worth it!” Jim replied, “It was worth it sarge! When I arrived, Joe was still alive! And he said, “I knew you would come!” Dear Reader, you are valuable to God! You were valuable to Paul! Paul wanted to go and preach where no one had preached before. Through Paul’s letters, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he is preaching still. Do not lose heart, dear Reader—you are precious, and God is moving mountains to help you choose HIM!