Is this how Paul meant that the Ephesians should take it?
Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world existed. (John 1:2-5 BSB)
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5 NAS)
This point only adds to our difficulty in understanding the place of suffering in our lives. Paul considered his own suffering not to be specifically for his own growth and benefit, but largely for the benefit of others. He writes further on this to another church. This one to the Colossians:
But why are we called to suffer at all? You may have noticed in reading one of Paul’s statement, he simply says that he saw his suffering as “filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
Seeing the state of the world and what is happening even in our own lives, it is not difficult to see that although we may be in a position of glory, we have yet to see the full realization of it.
Our Focus in Life
Perhaps the first step in the reassigning of our vision and our priorities is again to look at our entire existence from a lofty perspective. This, after all, is what Paul is trying to show us in this entire letter.
If we were to view our sufferings and the sufferings of others from our lofty position, what should we expect to see? When this happens, we begin to view our lives by not looking only at our vessels of clay, but rather by seeing the treasures within. Our eyesight is transformed. We will begin to see, as Paul earlier wrote to the Ephesians, “With the eyes of our heart.”
Glory for us is the goal.
If we learn to do this, if we learn to look at life from a lofty perspective, our vision of seeing only sufferings will be transformed. We will then see an entirely new thing. We will see that suffering is not in contrast with the grace of God and with glory at all, but actually is something that we merely encounter on the road to glory. It is even something that will help us to realize the full glory of God.
You will notice that this road to glory leads us inevitably to God’s love. It is here where the road is completed. God’s love is the fulfillment and realization of life itself. The love of God is more than mere sentimentality. It is the most powerful force in the universe.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:10-11)