LINK: 2 Corinthians 4
Warren Wiersbe writes at the end of 2 Corinthians 3 in The Bible Exposition Commentary, "When your ministry involves the glory of God -- you cannot quit!" (Volume 1, p. 641). This is a perfect segue into this chapter!
Paul and his band had many reasons to be discouraged in ministry (2 Corinthians 1:8), but they did not quit because of the ministry of glory that they had been given. How can one stop bringing transformation to all who believe? Who wouldn't want life, light, salvation, and righteousness? Paul and his band did not preach for selfish gain (like the false teachers) but were servants preaching Christ Jesus as Lord. They were merely vessels to reveal the Light of Christ to a dark world.
Continuing from 2 Corinthians 3:14-16, Paul explains that the mind of Jews were "veiled" because they were blind and hardened in their hearts and minds (Romans 11:25). This is true of the Gentiles too. Only Christ can illuminate the darkness of the unbelieving whose minds have been blinded by Satan (4:4).
Despite affliction of every kind, Paul and his band saw it only as temporary in light of the glory that would be revealed to them in eternity. They were convinced that their death meant life for many!
I used to get discouraged in ministry, especially in my 20s. When suffering would come, I would whine and run away. Sitting with 20-somethings in counseling, I see so much of me back then. Actually, most are further along than I was at their age. That gives me hope.
I am at a stand-still in a particular aspect of my ministry right now, but I do not give up! Paul encourages me to keep on keeping on! I see that a closed door in one area, means an open door in (and more time to devote to) another area. More and more, I can see God's sovereign hand directing me to one place or another. It is so exciting to just be a passenger in His car enjoying the scenery along the way. Sure there is "momentary suffering" here and there, but it is nothing to God's overall plan and picture!
How do you respond when discouragement in ministry comes? Talk to God about it. Work through it with Him. Listen carefully to what He tells you about yourself and His plan for you.
Lord, thank You that Paul knew where he was going. Help us to know our identity and Your destiny for us. Amen.