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 Jesus, to compare my season of stress with the apostle Paul’s would be like comparing my guitar playing with Eric Clapton’s, my dancing with the cast of River Dance, or my cooking skill with Mario Batali. There’s simply no comparison. When I consider everything your servant Paul experienced, I have nothing to bemoan or groan about—the whine meter doesn’t register very much.
Nonetheless, Paul’s honesty and vulnerability are great gifts 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. Fear and uncertainty are domesticated by your ascension and present reign.
Jesus, in the midst of everything I’d love to fix, change or eliminate, 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 weakness, I surrender to your will. If your incomparable beauty will be most clearly revealed through my hardships, I surrender to your ways. If your redeeming purposes will be most fully realized through my brokenness, I surrender to you.
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? You alone give the words of life, the sufficient grace, and the hope of glory. May your voice be ten times louder than the murmurings around me and the grumblings inside me.
Jesus, in the coming hours and days and weeks, prove the wonders of your love in our midst.
I pray the same for good friends reeling from betrayals, exhausted by chronic pain, shamed by their foolish choices, disillusioned with vocational ministry, lonely in their marriages, enslaved by an addiction, or just flat out weary from the demands and daily-ness of life. So very Amen I pray, with hungry expectancy in your powerful name. Amen.