The emotion of despair can paralyze and debilitate even the strongest of souls. Pressures from every side can be perplexing; persecution can make us feel as though we've been struck down. When life is filled with despair, we must not give up. Instead we can turn to God, our loving Father, and His powerful Word to regain focus.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 we read about a treasure, but the treasure is kept in a jar of clay. That seems like an odd place for a treasure. Usually we would keep our valuable treasures in a vault, in a safety deposit box, or in a strong, protected place. A jar of clay is fragile, and easily broken. Upon further inspection, this jar of clay reveals flaws, chips, and cracks. It's not a vessel of great worth or monetary value, but rather a common, ordinary vessel.
We are that earthen vessel, that fragile clay pot! Our bodies, our outward appearance, our essential humanity, our physical disabilities, our shattered dreams, these are all elements of our jar of clay. None of these things can bring meaning or a sense of value to our lives. If we focus on our human side, despair is bound to set in.
But the wonderful secret to overcoming despair is also revealed in these verses in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4. Kept inside that broken, fragile, ordinary jar of clay is a treasure, a priceless treasure of immeasurable worth!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 16-18 (NIV)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Let God's truth refocus your eyes today on the treasure that dwells within you. This treasure can fill the emptiest of vessels; after all, a jar is designed to hold something! That treasure is God himself, living within us, bringing his abundant life. In our own humanity we have no sense of wealth or worth, no value in this jar of clay. We are simply an empty jar. But when this humanity is filled with deity, we receive what we were created to hold, the very life of God. He is our treasure!
When we look only at the frail clay pot, despair is the natural result, but when we look at the glorious treasure we hold, we are inwardly renewed day by day. And those frailties and cracks in our clay pot? They are not to be despised, for they now serve a purpose! They allow the life of God, our cherished treasure, to seep out for all those around us to see.