12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Hey there! Today’s verses point to something that our modern minds miss: suffering as a benefit. In the last week we have been talking about how God will often remodel our lives but we are overwhelmed with the effects or process. Yet here Paul tells the Ephesians that his sufferings are for a benefit and THEN talks about their understanding of love and how it surpasses their knowledge.
Now it can be debated that Paul isn’t connecting this to the suffering… however we are going to connect the two. We’ve got to realize that God’s love for us, and for others, is going to be far more involved than we can understand. That is why Paul says that this surpasses knowledge! We will often experience a struggle, a crisis, a conflict, or whatever else you want to call it and we ASSUME that since it’s uncomfortable we must be under attack or there’s no true benefit. However, like we said a few days ago, God is often removing things from our life that are negative or He is giving us a path to a deeper understanding of Him and it results in being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Yet again, it feels life suffering, it feels uncomfortable, and it feels like we are being attacked. Discomfort often prompts us to pray for providential freedom from the circumstance God is using to teach us or grow us.
Look at verse 20: now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. We look at our circumstances and we pray for freedom… oh how low we are setting the bar. God is looking at what’s happening and seeing the possibility for so much more! He looks at the place we are and sees the potential for understanding Him more. He does so much more than we ask or imagine and we simply look at the basic facts and pray about them!
The Holy Spirit within us can lead us into a deeper understanding of the situation, the purpose of the situation, and the greater potential of the situation… if we seek it. James 1:5 is a verse nestled within a chapter about suffering and DOING what God wants us to do… it tells us to simply ask for wisdom. Let’s not jump to assuming we can ask for freedom but instead ask for wisdom first. Why? Because maybe after we see the purpose and potential we won’t ask for freedom from it. I know it’s bad grammar to start a sentence with “because” but it worked there ok!
Let us first focus on growing in understanding of God, His purpose, and His mission versus focusing on growing in comfort… Please and thank you 😛
Spend 1-2 minutes thanking God for not taking away the events in your life that you prayed for but instead using them to grow you. Then spend 2-3 minutes praying asking God to show you what He is trying to teach you in your current circumstances. Did you pray or did you skip this part? If you prayed… good job. If not… you are a heretic. lol j/k but seriously… pray! :p
Perhaps you can see someone who is in a pretty hard spot and doesn’t know WHY they are in that spot… maybe God has given you comfort in a circumstance similar to them and you can share that comfort with them? Maybe your suffering was only for the purpose of comforting someone else in that struggle which will lead that person to see how God reaches into our lives through other people… just maybe these following verses are true:
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.