So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. (ESV)
Perhaps you have heard the expression, "No pain, no gain." I have begun many failed attempts at gaining a great physical body. The process seems to fall apart when I come to the realization that the gain I am looking for requires more pain than I am willing to participate in. In our spiritual walk there is no question that it is pain that produces gain. This realization flies in the face of some modern prosperity teaching in the church that somehow pain is to be avoided and we are to be materially prosperous.
Paul is talking about suffering. He asks the Ephesian believers to not lose heart over his suffering. Paul was writing this letter to the church at Ephesus from a prison cell. Paul knew what it was to suffer, and yet, in the midst of his suffering he was able to provide some of the greatest encouragement the church has ever known. Not only were his words an encouragement to the people at Ephesus, but the church of today continues to be encouraged by them. Paul's suffering was for our glory.
Now, I suppose we need to define things just a bit. I am not suggesting that we are to glorify ourselves. We have clearly established that God is to receive all the glory. But, God is glorified as we become more like him. And we are able to become more like him as we go through times of suffering and struggle. It is always a way of pain that brings us to a more glorified position in Christ.
The other day I was having coffee with a man who had pastored churches for many years. He is still involved in providing care and encouragement to pastors today. He said that he has never met a pastor who was truly called into ministry who was not a recipient of a lot of pain in their lives. Our suffering leads to God being glorified in a greater way in our lives. That's how it works. Listen to the Apostle Paul's words to the church at Rome:
 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)
No pain. No gain.
In what ways are you suffering today? Friend, do not lose heart. Suffering leads to glory. Pain leads to gain. Trust the Lord. He knows your hurt and has a plan to bring you to glory. Ask him to give you strength and patience.
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