I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Eph 3:13 NIV)
A suffering and sick person is pitied by most and therefore receiver of sympathy and compassion. People care for such ill people and do all sorts of good for him. However if the illness persists and healing takes longer than just a few days or weeks, then the compassion cools off dramatically. Sympathy dissipates. Caregivers get tired of caring and look for all sorts of excuses to get by without helping further. That obviously deepens the plight of the suffering, his need gets worse and the pain gets more and more unbearable. This is experienced all too often. That is very sad and justly deserves reprimanding and severe chiding. Summarized its all because we get tired of caring and having compassion. This might have been the predicament of the apostle that he alludes to here. He was imprisoned. At first there is a lot of concern and heartfelt consolation in letters and kind gifts. However rather too soon the congregations get used to this stressful situation. They take his imprisonment for granted and his suffering as a matter of course. That is why St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of the sufferings “for them” and that they serve for “your glory”. How would they have gotten by faithfully if he as their teacher had failed and fallen from faith? With him their faith was confirmed and with him they would have fallen. His faithfulness bore their peace and steadfastness. How could they thus forsake him and be discouraged in his suffering?
Heavenly Father! As evening falls grant us mercifully to stand in your presence. Fill us with your strength, love and discipline for the coming week. Bow us faithfully to abide in your holy will even if it leads us into difficult and struggling pathways. Take away those unbearable burdens which we can’t handle. Confirm us in your grace and faithfulness. Let your eternal truth lift up our hearts and strengthen our trust, hope and faith in you. Amen. (Arper-Zillessen)
I would trust in Thy protecting, Wholly rest upon Thine arm, Follow wholly Thy directing, O my only Guard from harm, Meet me now with Thy salvation In Thy Church’s ordered way; Let me feel Thy confirmation In Thy truth and fear today.
So that, might and firmness gaining, Hope in danger, joy in grief, Now and evermore remaining In the one and true belief, Resting in my Savior’s merit, Strengthened with Thy Spirit’s strength, With Thy saints I may inherit All My Father’s joy at length. (John M. Neale, 1842)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the sixteenth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 327 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.