Do Not Lose Heart

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.But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 

In v7 we see that the containers (us) that Jesus Christ indwells in are fragile and limited.  We are intended to be a vessel of this kind, a weak and simple vessel.  A vessel that is decaying and is intended to be temporary.  We are nothing more than simple clay pots that can be used for noble purposes or less desirable purposes (like a chamber pot).   The purpose for which we have been saved is that the life of Christ will be revealed from within us. You and I are here to glorify God, and one way that takes place is as others see the work of God in your life!  

When someone is persecuting us; in the flesh, we want to lash out and strike back- we want to retaliate against the one hurting us or causing us to go through such misery. And yet, something restrains us and we find ourselves stopping our tongues before we verbally cut them  off at the knees.  We check out what we want to say first by running it through the grid of the Holy Spirit. 

This is not of us either; it is the power of God being manifested in our lives.  Remember the  Lord wants us to succeed and He is for us, not against us! He is working in us to reveal Himself to others.
 I often have my counselee’s make up little 3x5 index cards and put them everywhere in the house, car and work. The card asks a simple question: “does this _________ glorify God?” It is a good reminder to see as we are new at growing and changing. It is a visual reminder to us that that is what we are to be about.  So what we can understand now is that even though I am weak and fragile, the surpassing greatness of the power of God will be revealed through me as I suffer- and that power will not be from ourselves but from God. 

God’s power within us means that we are being filled with His power and ability all the time to do things that otherwise would be impossible. Biblical responses to suffering without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit –are impossible. As we are suffering and weak God is being magnified.

He is being shown in all His glory as we strive and trust and rest and persevere and press on in spite of our trials. Jesus is being made known. God’s power and Christ’s life are being manifested in us- in other words they are being made known to us and then through us. 

Our outward man is decaying and in the end, when Christ is finished with it - and not a moment sooner- it will cease to be valuable to Him and it will die. We can find hope in the real truth and fact that our time here on earth will not cease until God is done using this body and life for each and every purpose He intended to use it for. 

And as the outer man is decaying, the inner man is being renewed and Christ is using us to accomplish His will and He is renewing us in the only way that matters for eternity- spiritual renewal.