“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)
Paul’s letter in Ephesians three amazes me. We find him sitting under house arrest, waiting for his case to be heard by the emperor. In the midst of his trials he writes this beautiful letter that ends with the above prayer over the people of Ephesus. This letter is full of encouragement for the Ephesian people and holds a convicting message for me today.
For the first part of this chapter, Paul is explaining to the Ephesians why he’s been arrested. He continues on with the purpose of God’s plan through Jesus Christ. He finishes verse thirteen asking the people not to despair, instead asking them to feel honored and encouraged that he is suffering.
Verse fourteen of this same chapter holds the words, “When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father.” Ok, let’s digest this.
Here’s a man, imprisoned, treated unfairly and stuck in a waiting period of life, yet, we don’t see him discouraged at all. He is praising God for the wisdom of His plan, rejoicing in his suffering. Here’s where the convicting part comes for me.
Some days I get discouraged. Some days I feel like God’s plan has somehow gotten off course or that He doesn’t hear me. Some days I feel like what I’m doing isn’t making a difference because I don’t see any progress.
I sit in the comfort of my warm, furnished, home writing these words. I have food to feed my family, cars to drive to jobs that God has provided. My kids, husband and I are healthy and many of my blessings fall under the want category, not the need. Yet, I find ways to be discouraged with God. I find more ways to question God’s plan then think on the wisdom of it.
Paul found the answer to rejoicing in the midst of whatever life threw at him. He had gratitude in the love that God showed for us by providing a way to access Him through Jesus Christ. It was what excited him and made the suffering worth it; sharing Jesus, seeing the Jews and Gentile become one church in the eyes of God. The love of Christ compelled him to keep sharing and keep encouraging others even when life didn’t make sense to him.
I can learn a lot from a guy like Paul. I think my first step is going to be gratitude. I found this quote in my research for this writing:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ~ Melody Beattie
Whatever we are struggling with, there is always something to be thankful for. I find when I focus on listing the things I’m thankful for, the discouragement seems to dissipate.
Lord, thank You for Your grand plan of salvation and the sacrifice of Your Son. Nothing in life is more precious than having access to You. May we find ways to experience Your love more each day so we can encourage others with it. Amen.