I had lunch recently with a church member who shared his frustrations with health. He said he recently gathered with his friends and for an hour they took turns sharing their medical dilemmas. One person had lost a grandchild, another was battling cancer, another was in therapy, and one was still looking for answers. Not only could they all share a scary situation, for the course of their time together that’s all they shared.
When I hear stories like this I can’t help but think of II Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in clay jars…” We are like clay. We break when we fall. We fade and wear over time. The more we live, the more we pick up chips and cracks. Our bodies, as durable as they seem, can at times be very fragile. When my daughter got sick recently I sent an e-mail out to the congregation. I could not believe how many other people had “been there”. It isn’t just the aged who deal with our delicateness. We are all constantly reminded of how much like clay we can be.
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it might be made clear that this extraordinary power comes from God and not from us.”
II Cor. 4:7
In, with and in spite of your fragileness, God is up to something in you. Despite our tendency to break and wear, God has poured love and grace into us. Regardless of the fact that we live in a chaotic world where everything tends to crash into one another, God has chosen to breathe his life-giving Spirit into our lungs. While we may be constantly reminded of our health situations (whatever they may be), the Apostle reminds us that we also have a LIFE situation. And he continues calling all those who seem burdened by illness and pain:
“We are afflicted in every way, BUT NOT CRUSHED; perplexed, BUT NOT DRIVEN TO DESPAIR; persecuted, BUT NOT FORSAKEN; struck down, BUT NOT DESTROYED.”
II Cor. 4:8-9
Our God – the ultimate potter – who formed us from dust, who breathed life into our lungs, will continue to re-fashion and re-form us. And even at the end, when our bodies ultimately break, our God will be there to collect his treasure and remake his clay jar. We call this resurrection.
For those who are afflicted – you will not be crushed by what you are going through. For those who are perplexed – this will not drive you to despair.
For those who are persecuted – you are not forgotten.
For those who are struck down – you will not be destroyed.
You are God’s treasure.
In the Way,