We are jars of clay who carry a treasure, the greatest treasure, God Himself. God doesn’t need us to complete or fulfill His Word. He willingly chooses us, as broken as we are, to demonstrate His surpassing power. That He may be manifested in our brokenness. He renew’s us.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NLT
This passage acknowledges the connection between suffering and the surpassing power of God in our suffering.
- Afflicted in every way, but not crushed
- Perplexed, but not driven to despair
- Persecuted, but not forsaken
- Struck down, but not destroyed
God may allow for us to be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down. However, He will not allow for His sheep to be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken or destroyed. We may often question God when ourselves or someone close to us experiences one of these forms of suffering. While we don’t actively seek suffering, following Christ comes with suffering, just as He said because the world hated Him first.
But God has a reason for our suffering.
His reason is displayed in our “carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” We take on the death of Jesus by dying to ourselves (Romans 6:11 NLT) so that the life of Jesus is on full display. We renew ourselves.
Related Post: Making Sense of Suffering and Pain
God sent Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for our sake (2 Cor. 5:21 NLT). He became human like us, physically alive, to die for our sins and give us new life. To renew us. Have we accepted this reality and live in obedience regardless of our circumstances? Or do we casually read it as if our obedience to Christ is for our personal gain?
2 Corinthians wraps up with this great truth. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is renewing day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” This is the reason for our suffering; an eternal glory. A glory that has no comparison to the wonders of this world.
Jesus says to take up our own cross, not our own comfort.
Paul says we will experience persecution, not ever increasing pleasure. May God renew our fragile jars of clay from the inside so we may display this great treasure of Christ to the world outside.