THE MINISTRY OF SUFFERING

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:7-18

“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:18)

Some of the most effective ministry is done during times of suffering. Paul was imprisoned because of his ministry. Yet, he saw the blessings in his suffering. His suffering produced an abundance of fruit — “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well know throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brothers trusting because of my imprisonment have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).

Paul was not bitter about his imprisonment. Instead he saw it as an occasion for ministry. He was able to share the gospel with the imperial guard, the soldiers who guarded the emperor. And he heard reports how other believers were being more courageous as they preached God’s Word in a pagan, hostile part of the world.

Throughout his ministry, Paul faced times of severe suffering — “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was caught at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (II Corinthians 11:24-28).

Aristarchus (v. 10) also suffered as a result of his faithful ministry. He was a Macedonian of Thessalonica. He was with Paul in Ephesus when a riot broke out. A silversmith named Demetris organized other people in his trade to resist Paul and his fellow workers, who had brought the gospel to Ephesus — “And the city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia” (Acts 19:29).

Ministry may involved suffering and opposition. But as we trust Christ to lead and to empower, God will use our sufferings to make our ministries more real and effective. I know this for a fact. Some of the most effective ministry I have had came out of times of personal suffering and pain.

Lord Jesus, You suffered greatly in Your ministry. You met opposition, disappointment, pain and even death. Your ministry of suffering made my salvation possible. I thank You for boldly facing suffering so that I could experience the forgiveness of my sins and peace with God. Enable me and other believers to see our times of suffering as occasions for ministry to others.

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