But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18)
The story of God-on-Earth should always be personal. Paul wrote what we call Second Corinthians as a defense of his leadership to an elite and fractious group of believers. He’s not sounding much like a leader here — at the least the way we define it. But he led so many with his life, he’s still leading millions alive today, and he’s leading me. Even though he possessed one of the most brilliant minds and dynamic personalities the world has ever known, he chose to be one of many “jars of clay” that God is using. By choice, he is “hard pressed on every side” and physically “wasting away.” One of my long-term cancer friends used to call this first paragraph her ‘chemotherapy passage.’ Paul’s leadership here comes in two personal encouragements to live for God the way he did. First, to realize that Jesus offers us only a difficult road; we follow him by picking up a cross and carrying it daily. And second, to know we can handle far more than we think we can — “not lose heart” — when we choose to overlook the pain of our circumstances so we ‘only have eyes’ for Jesus. Yes, it’s God’s plan for “jars of clay” like you and me to contain the “surpassing power of God.” Keep your eyes laser-focused on God’s “unseen” plan.
Lord, forgive me for wanting a comfort life, when there is so much difficult work to do to bring your love to this Earth. Forgive me also for just glancing in your direction, when you want me to fix my eyes on you. I want to be a leadable jar of clay today. Amen.