There are all kinds of vessels made of clay. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the two things they all have in common are… clay vessels were made to contain something and they are all weak in structure. When Paul describes Believers as weak ‘vessels’ that are ‘afflicted, at wit’s end, and knocked down’, He is identifying our purpose ‘to be filled up’ with the transcended power of the ‘Light of the glory of God as seen in the face of Jesus’ that fills with hope, never abandons, or allows us to be knocked out. The transcended power of this Light of God always lifts us up in His time. Notice the necessity of the weakness in order to know the power… This is where we struggle with how God wants us to live; we want the power of God in our lives without the weakness. We want His blessing to come through untroubled, peaceful, and calm circumstances… but what kind of Power and Victory would that reveal? God is drawing all men to Himself, but we are self-interested, egotistical, willful brutes… or as Paul describes, ‘the darkness in which God shines the light.’ It is only as we are taken to rationally recognize and admit our weakness that the light shines in through the cracks of our ‘earthen jar’.
The lie about Christianity is ‘believe and you will never know difficulties or illness and life will be a bowl of ice cream.’ That is not true or Biblical, Believers get sick, have struggles, and they die. The truth is, you believe and God will begin reconstruction, using the circumstances of your life. He will begin tearing out of the old ways, appetites, and willfulness; all the while filling us up with His Glory! It is this kind of renewal that gets ours and other people’s attention… when we see newness and victory coming out of a life that is ‘pressed on every side, hopeless, and knocked down’.
What is the secret then to being filled up with ‘the Light of God’s glory’? Paul tells us it’s our consent to sharing in the dying of Jesus. He writes, “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” (2 Cor 4:10). We know this does not mean we are to physically die, that doesn’t make sense in the context since Paul goes on to describe how we are to live ‘manifesting the life of Jesus.’ So the question then is ‘what was the dying of Jesus like? On the cross, He was not powerful, impressive, or significant; He was not being applauded by the multitudes who had heard Him speak, No, the cross was a place of physical weakness, of rejection by the proud and arrogant world around Him. It was a place of obscurity, a place where He was willing to lose everything He had, trusting God to bring it back and make it significant (stedman). We were made to contain the ‘Light of the Glory of God as seen in Jesus.’ For that Treasure to be known in our lives we must be willing to give up (die to) all the things that make us look important and take a position of obscurity, trusting God to use us however He will. This is the ‘dying of Jesus’ we are to carry in our ‘earthen vessel’ and what Jesus meant when He said, ‘pick up your cross and follow me.’
Victor Frankl wrote concerning the horrors of the Holocaust, “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.” That meaning is to shine the light of the Gospel into the darkness of willful humanity in order to draw all men into the presence of a marvelously perfect God. It is only through weak vessels spilling over with His glorious light that this is effective.
I pray you trust God today with your life’s circumstances. Whether you are pressed at every point, at wit’s end, persecuted, or knocked down… Jesus stands ready to deliver you, filling you with hope through ‘the light of the Glory of God that shines in His presence’.
“God 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. 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.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Praying you trust Jesus today
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.” ―