I think there is a burning question in each one of us, Christian or not. This question has been brought up over and over for years and it may even cause some doubt in believers or fuel the argument against Christianity.
Why does God allow suffering?
And just as many times as the question has been asked, it has been answered. There are many different views on this and I have read many of them but still never felt like I knew quite what the answer was.
During my quiet time yesterday morning, I didn’t mean to ask this question or to find any answers….I was simply reading Ephesians because I felt led to. An amazing thing happened…..I actually read the answer before I knew the question!
Phillipians 4:19 Says: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
I know this verse has been both comforting and frustrating for many. Why doesn’t it feel like God is meeting my needs? I’ve read a lot about God’s timing being an answer….but I was enlightened when I read through the book of Ephesians! Maybe his timing is, indeed, now. Maybe we already have everything we could ever need.
I believe we tend to focus on the “meeting our needs” part and not the “according to the riches of his glory” part. We have this idea in our head of what it looks like to have our needs met, ask that “God’s will” be done, and then get frustrated when those two things don’t line up. All throughout Ephesians, God (through Paul) defines what this really means.
Starting in Chapter 1, Verses 7-8 Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
I couldn’t help but notice the same language being used here as it was in Phillipians. According to his RICHES and glory. Maybe our idea of riches looks a whole lot different than God’s idea of riches. The cross is ONE. POWERFUL. WAY. God provides for us! Imagine living weighed down by the chains of unforgiveness.
Need #1 ✅
He doesn’t stop here, though! We don’t need to read much further to see that he provides for us in yet -another- way.
Ephesians 1:8-9 says, “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Ephesians 1:13: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised holy spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
So here, he has provided us with the Holy Spirit and the promise of an inheritance! If we just stopped there…..I would be in absolute awe of all that God has freely given us, without ever even deserving any of it!
Need # 2&3 ✅
But he goes on!
Ephesians 1:18: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
He’s given us hope. Something to keep us on track. Keep our eye on the prize. We have something so valuable inside of us that there are no words to describe it. That last part made me feel treasured. This hope we have inside of us is described as being the RICHES of his glorious inheritance. I just see a jewel, reflecting this beautiful light in all of it’s brilliance, buried safe- deep down inside of us. HOPE. In order to make it through this fallen world, we NEED hope. We HAVE hope.
Need #4 ✅
Ending Chapter 1, in Verses 22-23 Paul writes, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
His fullness. The feeling of being completely satisfied. Full, according to Google’s Dictionary, is defined as “not lacking or omitting anything; complete.” Ephesians just told us that Jesus fills us in every way possible. We don’t go without the important things. At any given moment we have access to (so far) forgiveness, an inheritance, hope and now fullness. This doesn’t mean we ate too much Thanksgiving Dinner and now we are full….but it can.
❤️Have you experienced God’s fullness? I’d LOVE to hear about this in the comments. ❤️
I can’t accurately describe the way that it feels. It’s a satisfying feeling that no other thing on this planet could ever come close to giving us. And not only does it satisfy us, it overflows and fills those around us! What a wonderful gift.
Need #5 ✅
Adding to the list of needs being met, we read in chapter 2, verse 4: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
verses 7-8: “In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Love, mercy, grace, kindness.
Needs # 6, 7, 8, & 9 ✅
I had to pause here and really dig into 4 definitions in order to wrap my head around this.
Forgive- Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
Mercy- Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Grace- The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Favor- approval, liking or support for someone or something.
So you’re telling me…..I get all of those things? Without having to earn or pay for them?
This world is so full of false promises…this drink will make you lose weight and make you happy, this car will impress your friends and make you happy, this house will make you look like you have it together and make you happy, this beverage will numb your problems and make you happy, this person will complete you and make you feel happy, this vacation will relax you and make you feel happy, this double cheeseburger will taste good and make you feel happy, this package on your doorstep will make you feel happy…..but it never does. Or if it does, it doesn’t last long. Not only that, but we spend our precious time CHASING these things. We work hard, neglect our family and friends, constantly compare ourselves and what does it get us? Back to where we started.
Ephesians 2:14 adds, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with it’s commands and regulations.”
Our world is in a state of war and murder. We could get bigger guns, get rid of guns, limit guns or protect our guns with guns but God tells us that he is the source of our peace. We can chase peace in this world in whatever way we think will work, but the only true peace is found in God.
Need #10 ✅
Chapter 3, verse 12 tells us, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”
It means so much to me that I can come to our Father at ANY time and he will listen. I can’t say this about one other person. It’s just the way things are…..we are people…..busy people and we can’t be there for everyone all the time. And even if we could…would we be as understanding, forgiving and full of the riches we NEED?
The last verse that touched me was Ephesians 3:16: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”
3 things we have access to if we take advantage of them: freedom, confidence and power.
Needs #11, 12 & 13 ✅
Next time we sit down to pray about our needs, my hope is that we will remember the needs he has already met and continues to meet. I’m not sure there is much more we could possibly need to make it through this fallen world.
- Forgiveness/ Redemption
- An Inheritance
- The Holy Spirit/ Discernment
If one person on Earth offered all of these things all of the time, how would our world be changed? If there were MANY people walking around (called Christians), that had all of these things inside of them and they shared them…..how would the world change?
If we listened to Him, truly used these riches for good….could we change our circumstances? I recently read a quote that has stuck with me.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” -Dalai Lama
My prayer is that we will rest, and listen to God’s direction.