Our lesson was on the first part of Ephesians chapter 3. Here Paul is under house arrest and says, "13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory." This suffering was not a fleeting time. He was and had suffered innumerable times in many ways. He never complained but only gave glory to God, and God used Paul's sufferings to spread the Gospel. In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 He describes the many ways he has suffered and how this is something to be proud of. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Now in comparison to Paul (a man I used to think was self absorbed, arrogant and well, a chauvinist), I doubt we have much to compare. I do not! Lord, I am grateful for the fact that I have never been tortured or imprisoned for my faith in You. I have never even suffered more than temporary pain. So the question remains "how have I suffered and how has it been beneficial?"
Well, I struggle to come up with a true suffering experience. I mean real suffering. We have and are currently struggling financially, but and I mean BUT, we have so much more than so many. We live paycheck to paycheck, and always rely on Your grace to provide. You have never failed us. NEVER! I don't expect You will. When we need more, You always provide us with extra work (like this weekend PRAISE YOU FOR THIS), an unexpected check in the mail, or one of the best miracles yet ($500) anonymous gift in the mail. You even gave me a treadmill after my prayer for one the very next day! My list of how You have made our lives full of every kind of blessing could go on for pages (maybe I'll start a blog list--hmmm). I mean You truly do make life full of wonders. With out You and Your grace I know where I would be. NOT a typo. I know because I've been there. Under the illusion that all I have is due to how much money I make or that my worth is in how much I accomplish and how well I do it. In my previous lifestyle, apart from You, I had a lot of money, time, ambition... but I lacked a certain brokenness that pleases You. The brokenness that teaches me just how sufficient You are. Like Paul, now I delight in not being rich. I delight in the fact that I have this list of miraculous ways You have provided and that I can brag about You and Your goodness. I'm in tears just recalling ALL You have done! So to answer the question-- I can't complain about my suffering, because You wipe away all the tears. You give us hope and tell us not to worry-- Because of this "suffering", I have experienced miracles. I owe ALL I have to You!