7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-9
I’m so glad I read this today. However, it would have done me more good to have read it at the beginning of the week! Oh well…
Jars of clay. I love this. Because it doesn’t seem like such a difficult thing to be. Just a plain old jar of clay. Nothing fancy or complex…simple, so that His power would be made evident to those around us. The only problem is that sometimes, there IS no special power being manifested in my life. Often, I am just an empty jar of clay, with no priceless treasure inside at all.
You see, I’ve had the kind of week which included zero sleep (for a stroke survivor, that is a serious problem!), an entire family of sick people, several trips to the doctor only to still not know what’s wrong, my husband hit a deer with his car, my daughter is testing me to my breaking point, etc., etc…. I have felt so weak, so powerless to show patience and kindness to those around me. I have been running on empty. No treasure. No power.
But the problem isn’t the fact that I didn’t HAVE the treasure…it’s that I had lost sight of what it was.
The second verse lists a bunch of “but nots”. And they are awesome! Take a look at them with me. The first one is “pressed but not crushed”. Pressure and stress are joy-suckers, for sure, but we are NOT “crushed”. This means the pressure is tight, and may even hurt. But it is not crushing us! Perplexed but not in despair. I looked up the word “perplexed” and some of the words used to describe it were “confused, full of anxiety.” That’s me again! And sometimes I think it’s carried over into despair, but if I really look at it with clear vision, it was probably never actually “despair.” And the last one: “struck down, but not destroyed.” You know in those war movies, where a soldier will cry out after being shot, “I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit!” ? Being struck down means that for awhile, you may not be up to fighting on the front lines…you may need to heal. BUT, you are NOT destroyed! If you were, you’d be dead, and you wouldn’t have to worry about any of this stuff anymore! These are really some very powerful “but nots”!
I will maybe need to read this each day until the reality of them reaches my heart. And that is the treasure, really. To go through life, with all of its slings and arrows, and still have hope, still enduring for the glory of God. That sure would be powerful, wouldn’t it?