The Grace of JESUS CHRIST takes ordinary people (like you and me) and makes them EXTRAORDINARY for the sole purpose of building HIS Kingdom.
Today I want to answer the question, “If we have extraordinary empowerment from God, then why do we face so much pain and difficulty? Shouldn’t we be untouchable?”
Jesus tells us that there will be a day when we are untouchable. That day hasn’t happened you. Until it does, he will empower us to face the pain and difficulty in extraordinary ways!
Living like Jesus might seem like a paradox. He was quite peculiar. Jesus made an impact on the world around him. He made it better. At the same time, he refused to be tempted or sucked up in what the world could offer him: political success, popularity, wealth, safety, comfort. He was at total peace, yet was murdered. His eye was on the eternal kingdom that was present and tangible on earth in spurts and disconnected pockets. Yet, he had a vision and knew that someday the dividing curtain between the eternal kingdom and the earthly realm would someday be dissolved. When in doubt or question, he picked to put the eternal kingdom as a priority over earthly/temporal things.
We are to LIVE LIKE JESUS. Extraordinary! Not just in practice but in principle.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars,
This is one of those phrases in the Bible that really stick out to me. I want to know WHY would Paul use this metaphor of clay jars? Obviously, clay jars were a big part of their culture back then.
He is saying that we store this incredibly valuable truth…the light of God…the glory of God that we see in Jesus in clay jars.
Clay jars were regarded as fragile and as expendable because they were cheap and often unattractive. clay pots that contained everything from wealth to worthless things, from foods to liquids. Because jars, pots, and vessels were made from clay, they were subject to breakage and, therefore, were inexpensive and discarded in short order. He uses an illustration taken from everyday life:
So the paradox Paul is expressing is that although the container is relatively worthless, the contents are priceless. Although the gospel treasure is indescribably valuable, the gospel’s ministers are of little value in comparison.
Jewish rabbis used to say: “It is impossible for wine to be kept in gold or silver vessels but in the most inferior of containers, namely, in earthen vessels. Similarly, the words of the Law are kept only in the person who is most humble.”
An analogy is the valuable Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stored for more than two millennia in ordinary clay jars that were decaying while the scrolls remained intact.
Paul was an example of this as he was beaten up, abandoned, shipwrecked.
2 Corinthians 4:7 …so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.
We hold the gospel as it were in clay jars to exhibit the phenomenal power of God, so that everyone may see that not we but God is its source. The original text reads: “the extraordinary (quality of the) power.”
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are pressured in every way but not crushed;
Physical or Psychological Difficulties
Clay pots that do not break even when placed under great strain. To be hard pressed or “afflicted” is to be troubled by physical or psychological difficulties. While Paul and other ministers of the gospel endured many afflictions as did frail earthenware, they were not crushed. They were not overcome by these afflictions because they had the treasure of the gospel of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:8… we are perplexed but not in despair;
Confusion and Discouragement
Perplexed, but not in despair. To be perplexed is to be in a state of confusion and discouragement because of afflictions and troubles. Despair in this context means “utter lack of all hope.” Even though Paul and his company were deeply troubled at times, they never gave up because they had a great treasure.
2 Corinthians 4:9 we are persecuted but not abandoned…
hunted down or chased by others
Persecuted is to be hunted down or chased about by others. Persecution was widespread against the early church. The persecution of the ministers of the gospel indicated how much they were earthenware jars. Yet, Paul insisted that even in persecution they were not abandoned. God never left them alone. He was with them in all of their persecutions. Paul portrays himself as a fugitive hunted down by his adversaries.
2 Corinthians 4:9 …we are struck down but not destroyed.
Setback, Demoted, Fired
When Paul spoke of being struck down, he was talking about a wrestling term. BodySlam! There is a big difference between a bodyslam and defeat.
The path to victory for your family will have many setbacks, but you will be victorious over your foes.
2 Corinthians 4:10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
Paul said there were many reasons for him to boast about this spiritual prowess. He was firmly established as a man of God. Had so many amazing visions, dreams, miracles.
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Get a vision of how BIG God really is! Believe that he is big enough for your thorn. Believe he is big enough that even with the thorn, your life could be awesome. How could that be? Jesus’ answer: My Grace is All You Need!
For some reason, God knows that you don’t need complete deliverance at this point. At the same time, he won’t leave you alone. He provides his grace to lead you through it in an EXTRAORINDARY WAY!
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16
In his essay, The Efficacy of Prayer, C.S. Lewis said,
“It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a group of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning; before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.
Does God then forsake just those who serve Him best? Well, He who served Him best of all said, near His tortured death, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When god becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need. There is a mystery here which, even if I had the power, I might not have the courage to explore. Meanwhile, little people like you and me, if our prayers are sometimes granted, beyond all hope and probability, had better not draw hasty conclusions to our own advantage. If we were stronger, we might be less tenderly treated. If we were braver, we might be sent with far less help, to defend fare more desperate posts in the great battle.”
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.