“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”
(Ephesians 3:1–13 ESV)
There is a tremendous truth hidden in the first few words of our passage today.
Paul calls himself “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”.
Now we know that in an earthy sense that wasn’t true…he was a prisoner of Rome.
The truth Paul knew was that his incarceration by Rome was part of the plan of God, that there was always a purpose in his pain, and that it was neither accidental or coincidental that he found himself in prison.
Paul knew that there were no accidents or coincidences in the kingdom of God…that there is always a heavenly plan and purpose behind every situation.
This situation called for Paul to suffer, but he knew that in the end his suffering would have great benefit for others and for the kingdom of God.
Even in his suffering he declared his confidence in Christ and the power of prayer.
He knew that despite outward appearance, his God was in complete control of the situation.
This doctrine that declares Gods active plan and participation in all things is called the “providence of God”… and it’s the pillow I rest my head on at night.
So can you.
Wherever you are right now, whatever situation you find yourself facing…God is in it, for your good and His glory.
It’s part of His plan, there is purpose in your pain, and you can be assured of his love, grace,and presence through it all.
Paul didn’t enjoy suffering any more than you or I do.
He just knew who his God was and trusted in His ways.
Go and do likewise…knowing that you are deeply and eternally loved and you will never be abandoned to chance.
More next week…