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. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.2 Corinthians 4:7–15
In today’s passage, Paul reminds us that we are broken people living in a hard world that is often full of suffering, pain, and selfishness. But despite this truth, we sometimes believe that we have full control over our lives, families, and relationships. This false sense of control is especially apparent for those of us that live in prosperous countries like the United States and was true for the people of Corinth to whom Paul wrote. Yet, when we run into a crisis or a hard time, it can become very clear to us that we are fragile.
Paul reminds us that God’s love, grace, and power are stored in clay pots—a metaphor for our humanity. Our lives should not be about exerting our control or power, but about being dependent on the virtues that only God can fill us with—grace, love, joy, and heavenly power. Paul also describes what happens to followers of Christ in the middle of a crisis: God shows up! When God is seen through Christ-followers—through the local church—we can be the world’s hope. We can love God, love people, and help change the world because He lives in us and moves through us.
Willow, let’s stay focused on the church’s mission to befriend, love, and serve those around us who are in need. Let’s stay committed to the relationships and communities where God has called us to serve. Let’s stay engaged in God’s power and glory to heal and transform people’s lives.