By Scotty Smith
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.2 Cor. 4:7-10
Dear Lord Jesus, to compare my stressors with the apostle Paul’s would be like comparing my photography with Ansel Adams’s, my preaching with Charles Spurgeon’s, or my cobbler making with a 5 star French pastry chef’s. There is simply no comparison. When I consider everything he experienced as your servant, honestly, I have nothing to bemoan or groan about.
Nonetheless, Paul’s honesty is a great gift to me this morning. His freedom to acknowledge both his anguish and his joy in the same paragraph, gives me tremendous encouragement and focus. Posing and pretending were crucified at Calvary. Despair and hopelessness were sabotaged by your resurrection.
Jesus, help me to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without. If your all-surpassing power will be shown most dramatically through my weaknesses, then I’ll boast in them. If your incomparable beauty will be most clearly revealed through my hardships, then I’ll stop my whining. If your redeeming purposes will be most fully realized through my brokenness, then I’ll humble myself and surrender.
With my palms up, I offer you praise for the treasure of the gospel. The gospel will win the day, my heart, the nations, and the cosmos. Though there are seasons when throwing in the towel, finding another story, or just flat running away are incredibly attractive, where else would I go but to you?
Jesus, you alone give the words of life, sufficient grace, and the hope of glory. May your voice grow ten times louder than any other voice, clamoring for my attention. In the coming hours, days, and weeks, demonstrate the wonders of your love and the sovereignty of your rule. So very Amen I pray, with hungry expectancy, in your trustworthy name.