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.
A Perfect Mystery
“Are you going to be able to attend the surprise party that we’re throwing for you next Tuesday?” Oops, you just blew it! You ruined the surprise by revealing it too early.
We all know how surprise parties are supposed to work. You turn off the lights, hide behind the furniture, and wait for the honoree to walk in. Then you flip on the lights, jump up, and shout in unison, “Surprise!” It was a secret, a mystery, and then suddenly it’s not. Surprise!
That’s the way the apostle Paul describes God’s glorious work of saving the people of this world from their sins. It’s a mystery, unfathomable, hidden out of sight. The Bible teaches us repeatedly that salvation is often hidden behind what appears to be its opposite—suffering.
Paul learned that painful lesson from experience. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, he describes a painful “thorn in the flesh” he was enduring. We don’t know what it was, but he asked Jesus to remove it from his life three different times. Paul was mystified. Why was Jesus allowing him to suffer so much?
But rather than removing his suffering immediately, Jesus provided a profound response. He said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, Paul would need to be patient and trust Jesus to rescue him at just the right time.
The same is true when it comes to God’s work of eternal salvation. We can be certain that our eternal salvation is a guaranteed reality in Christ Jesus. But so often, we need to wait until “the times reach their fulfillment” for God’s perfect plan to be revealed to us. We walk through the door into the dark. He flips on the light, jumps up with a smile, and shouts, “Surprise!”
The perfect mystery is revealed at the perfect time. Relax and rejoice!
Jesus, help me to be patient and trust you always. Amen.