The Treasure in Your Clay Jar

My sister Kristina and I are extremely close.  For the past seven months, we have been ooh-ing and aww-ing over baby clothes and nursery ideas in anticipation of the arrival of her and her husband’s first child.  So when I received a phone call saying she had been rushed to the hospital and in critical condition after going into pre-term labor, I rushed to her side.  I’ll never forget how fragile she looked as she walked through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) doors.  Having given birth only hours before, she was still hooked to an IV, weary-stricken, and as her older sister, it took everything in me not to completely lose it in front of her.  But more than anything, I’ll never forget the words that came out of her mouth as we embraced.  With her sweet face buried in my shoulder, I could taste her tears as she whispered, “He’s so little.  He’s just so little.  But I know God has a plan, and I’m choosing to trust in the one who holds all things together in His hands.”

How could my sister, after learning her sweet baby Jaxson would be in the NICU for at least two months…how, after learning she and her husband would be commuting two hours a day to see their little boy… how, after learning she wouldn’t get to hold him, nurse him, cuddle him, or even rock him for weeks, be able to say such things?  Because even at the tender age of twenty-three, she was conscious of the treasure within her.

Are you conscious of the treasure within you?  Are you walking through the valley of the shadow of death right now? Be comforted, my sister.  2 Corinthians 4:7-18 holds a treasure chest of promises for you.  May you find joy in the journey through these truths.

We have this treasure in jars of clay

In this passage, Paul is addressing the Corinthian church about suffering for the gospel.  While he is focusing on his own ministry as an apostle, we find much truth about how to deal with our own valleys today.  Paul was able to say with confidence, “We have this treasure in jars of clay” (4:7).  Sweet sisters, the moment you and I placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, we were given a treasure.  Paul defines this treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:6 as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.”

Why were we given such a treasure?  To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. You see, Paul used a metaphor of a clay pot and a precious treasure.  Imagine with me a clay pot.  Such vessels are cheap, expendable, and fragile objects.  They really have no enduring value of their own.  It is their contents that give them worth.Paul encourages that while we are weary and wandering through the valley, in Christ we shall live through the power of God.  Paul was very conscious of the treasure within him; this treasure—the gospel—was the only thing able to give him the power to face the valleys before him.

Sisters, let us not forget that our power to face the valleys comes from the treasure inside and not of ourselves!

We have life within us

Paul continues to encourage the church with these words: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:7). Let me just repeat these words so they can sink in.  Feeling trapped, lost, confused, and lonely right now?  Here’s your promise, dear one.  While you might be feeling these things, hope in this:  your valley will not crush you, you will not be driven to a pit of despair that you cannot be delivered from, you will not-will not– be forsaken, nor will you be destroyed.

Writing these truths on your heart will help you to remember that while you do not possess the strength to endure the valley on your own, we have this life—the Holy Spirit-working in us on our behalf!  Sisters, you might see your valley as a hardship, but this passage reminds us that our valleys are a living testament to God’s power, might, mercy, loving-kindness, and complete and utter sovereignty for His people.  We not only have a treasure inside these jars of clay; we also have life in us, as living testimonies of God’s deliverance.  What a privilege that is!

We are being renewed day by day

I would like to take a moment to note that nowhere in this passage does Paul indicate that God removed suffering from his life. Nor does he say that his suffering was caused by his lack of faith. This passage is all about real, raw, lived suffering.  Life is hard, isn’t it?  Pain is real and valleys are rocky.  What Paul does say is this: “I believed, and so I spoke” (4:13).  Paul could speak about God’s goodness and faithfulness through the valleys because he had experienced God’s works and ways before.  While my sister’s family of three’s future was uncertain, she could say with confidence, “My hope is in the Lord,” because she had experienced God’s mercies and chose faith over losing heart.

There is another truth in this passage that we must not miss.  Verse 16 says this: So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” This word, “being renewed” literally means that the Holy Spirit is working in us, renewing us day by day by day; it is an ever-increasing renewal!  But it gets better.  God is the agent.  Our hope is set!  We can join Paul in saying, “We have this treasure in jars of clay” because we have the power of the Holy Spirit going before us, renewing us for whatever comes our way.

Dear ones, the valleys are hard. But know this: We have treasures in these jars of clay.  The Holy Spirit is at work in us, and we can be living testimonies to the lost as well as other believers of God’s goodness when we choose to live by faith and not lose heart.  As I shared, my sister and her little family are facing a future unknown.  But praise the Lord, she has been able to be a living testimony to the other new mommas in the NICU, sharing about His goodness during this time, all the while giving glory to God.  Won’t you use this season of being in the valley as a time to give glory to God by being a living testimony to His goodness?

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