“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.” (Ephesians 3:11–13, NASB95)
Having suffered much for the work to which he was called, Paul was careful not to allow his suffering be cause for pity or special treatment. What he was given to do by God was seen by Paul as a great privilege. The fact that God would chose him as one who had so wholeheartedly persecuted Christians to then go out and be such a huge part of many others coming to faith in Christ and being instrumental in the revelation of God’s work among the Gentiles was really big in Paul’s heart and mind. He wrote of this privilege several times in his letters to the churches. Paul counted the suffering he endured for the cause of the gospel as light in the face of the great joy of knowing that God was drawing many unto Himself.
Not only did He do this because He was called to do so, but because in it God was glorified and so would be those who were saved as a result. Paul had been given the privilege of being a part of God’s plan which was established according to His eternal purpose and ultimately revealed and fulfilled in His Son—Christ Jesus our Lord. While it may seem that the enemy was winning as was evidenced by Paul’s treatment at the hands of the Jewish leadership and the Roman government, Paul encouraged these believer that even this ill-treatment was determined necessary by God. This was how God intended it, and Paul encouraged them not to lose heart because of what they saw and heard of him. God was fully in control and they were living proof of it.
Because of how God worked His plan many people were coming to salvation and in that being granted the ability to boldly and confidently come to God through faith. This is a two-part confidence where the first part is the assurance that we truly through salvation have overcome the judgment of sin and been set free from its grasp. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5, NASB95) And the second part where we are given confident access to God in Christ as a result. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NASB95)
In a world where an invitation needs to be extended to approach a king, we have been called to come confidently to the Father through His Son. Through Christ God has shown His great mercy and in Christ He extends His abundant grace. Where once the Jews as a people approached God through the High Priest, we now have Jesus as our heavenly High Priest who understands us all and gives us all access to the throne of God’s abundant grace. The writer of Hebrews added, “So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” It is this truth that Paul reminds his readers of when he encourages them not to become disheartened by the suffering that he endured on their behalf. After all, look at what Jesus did for each of us out of His great love and His obedience to the will of the Father. Paul told them that he could do nothing less, and in that God would be glorified and they would know His glory especially as it would be revealed when they step into His presence.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, NASB95)