I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:13 NIV)
The Apostle Paul was familiar with suffering, yet he seems to be more concerned with how his trials might affect other believers rather than the consequences to himself.
Paul wrote the book from prison, yet his mindset was not on himself, but on others. I don’t know about you, but when I am going through hard times, I often can start to feel sorry for myself. I start dwelling on the wrongs that may be done to me. I fixate on the injustice of my circumstances. This type of thinking is always a downward spiral because it leads us to think only about ourselves.
Paul had a better ideal—he always looked for the silver lining in the dark cloud. The prepositional phrase at the end of the above verse, “which are you glory” is very instructional. Paul had the unique ability to look at all things, good and bad, as having a purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV). Not all things that happen to us are good, but for those who love God, they can have a redemptive intention. I not so sure I know what Paul was talking about when he said it was their glory, but I am sure it was positive and not negative.
Life has a way of making us either bitter or better. It is all about perspective. Paul had a way of looking at things according to what was best for the Kingdom of God and not just his own comfort. The same circumstances can harden one heart and soften another.
I wish I could tell you that I am a lot like Paul, but I am not, yet I know what I should strive to be.