Tuesday, January 28, 2020 -
Today I did a lot of contemplating and studying of II Corinthians 4:7-18, particularly verses 7-12 in regards to my own situation and life.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you” (II Cor. 4:7-12 NASB).
Here Paul calls us in verse 7 “earthen vessels,” or literally clay pots. These types of containers are easily broken and as a result, seemingly made useless. But Paul claims otherwise. They are not made useless, for within us we contain a treasure, not of ourselves, a treasure whose greatness cannot be measured! Think about that! Vessels are made to hold things, including treasures. In and of ourselves we are very fragile and weak, but it is the unsurpassed greatness of the power within us that matters, and ultimately makes the difference.
Here now is one of the dominant themes of the New Testament, which we see beginning in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24) – the very essence of our salvation. When Paul tells us in II Corinthians 4:10 that we are always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, he means that we should also be bearing the same cross that Christ bore, being willing always to bear the same cruelties, persecution, and suffering that He bore for you and me!
Yet the power within us promises certain things. We may be afflicted in every way, which literally means oppressed with every sort of evil coming at us from all directions. This is almost verbatim to what Kathie told me last night that she felt she was having to bear. Yet we are told here in verse eight that it will not crush us, or literally, will not be able to express oneself. For this is an opportunity for Christ to manifest Himself through us, as verse ten claims!
There have been many times in this whole ordeal of mine where I like Kathie yesterday, have felt totally a target for Satan’s arrows. But Paul says that even though we are afflicted in every way, we are not crushed! To be crushed means to be wholly without resource, or utterly ruined. You see, as long as we are in Christ, this is never the case! Our hope and trust must always be in the power of God within us, and not from ourselves.
Paul then says, “perplexed, but not despairing.” The Greek word here translated “perplexed” means that we are forced to hesitate, not knowing how to proceed. Yet we are not to despair! To despair means to be wholly, or utterly, without any resource. That may be true if we merely look to our own resources, but again, it is the surpassing greatness of the power of God, that great treasure within us, which we must rely on!
He goes on in verse nine, “persecuted, but not forsaken.” Never, ever as God’s child should we let circumstances dictate the hope and confidence we have in God’s ability and power to deliver us! We may be struck down, prostrate, and seemingly unable to get on our own two feet again, but we are not destroyed!
In God’s own timetable His power will be made evident. And in the meanwhile, our inner man is being renewed day by day (verse 16). Paul concludes, “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (verses 17-18).
Here is what I know. I was flat on my back. I’d given up on legal remedies and appeals. I knew nothing I could do at this point would matter. I was afflicted in every way, perplexed – completely stymied as to any recourse for justice. I am being persecuted and I have been struck down in many ways. Yet Kathie and I have clung to God’s promises regardless. We know He has a purpose which we cannot now see or know.
I realize now that this is exactly where God wants us, recognizing that without the treasure of the surpassing greatness of the power of God within us all things are indeed hopeless.
It was at this point that God sent “D,” a man – a fellow believer also falsely convicted for standing for truth and justice – who was an expert in the law and legal remedies that could in fact lead to justice. I considered all to be hopeless in regards to that, and knew it would take a miracle; but even then, I doubted I’d be completely exonerated. However, now it is looking more and more like that will in fact be the case, because of the unsurpassed greatness of the treasure that is within us! All praise and glory be to our heavenly Father who promises that no matter what, we will not be crushed, have no reason to despair, He will never forsake us, and promises we will not be destroyed – all so He will get all the glory!