Today's Reading: Ephesians 3:13-21
So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. (Ephesians 3:13)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "Piling on"--it's usually something bad, like a few tons of football players crashing down on the poor guy at the bottom. Or teachers who seem to sense when you already have too much homework so they can assign a quick five-page paper due the next day. Sometimes it's even friends who abandon you, one after the other, just when you need them most.
The apostle was no stranger to troubles piling on him. He'd already been through a mountain of troubles and knew that the Lord would continue keeping the promise that Paul would suffer greatly for the Gospel.
Yet here, Paul barely mentions any afflictions that he might have been facing. He's too busy piling on the Ephesians to notice what troubles may have ganged up on him. And when we read what he's pouring out on them, we see why he could continue with such enthusiasm.
Paul takes shovels full of blessings, wheelbarrow loads of grace, dump trucks filled with hope, joy, and peace and pours the whole lot out on the heads of the Ephesians. His extravagant descriptions of Christ's love are matched by the promise that the Church will be filled with her Savior--strengthened, rooted, grounded, and growing in the Lord.
What a way to face life's problems! After briefly acknowledging that yes, we have issues, we can turn to the earth-shaking, overwhelming, creation-filling gifts that are poured out in Word and Sacrament.
If it were possible, we'd be drowning in God's goodness, smothering under the weight of His glory. Yet we discover that as these gifts are piled on, we take them into ourselves, dress ourselves in their finery, and nourish ourselves on their richness. As grace is piled on, it doesn't weigh us down. Instead, it lifts us up. When God adds the weight of His love in Christ Jesus to that of life's burdens, we discover, astonishingly, that our load of sin, doubt, and worry is lessened. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
The gifts are there each day The holy Word is read; God's children listen, hear, Receive, and they are fed. Christ fills them with Himself, Blest words that give them life, Restoring and refreshing Them for this world's strife. (The Gifts Christ Freely Gives, LSB 602:4)