Recently, our church has gone through some difficult circumstances. Since the beginning of the year we have walked with each other through chronic sickness, family emergencies, death, unemployment, and various run-of-the-mill life difficulties. These experiences have proved the maxim “when it rains, it pours.”
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay.”
Paul was no stranger to suffering. Aside from Jesus, no other New Testament witness experienced more suffering. But Paul did not allow his experiences to dictate his attitude or his obedience to the Mission Jesus had given him. In fact, he understood that the difficulties believers experience are meant to show that true power is in God, not in us. He said,
“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 Corinthians 4:7-10)
If following Jesus was about demonstrating our own power; if planting a church was about our own strategic efforts; if ministry and witness was about how skilled and articulate we are; then we would be in a lot of trouble. As it is, we experience all kinds of suffering, but we are not overcome by any of them. We experience confusion and frustration, but we are not overcome by depression. We experience rejection and opposition, but we are not left alone by God.
“So we do not lose heart.”
While sharing in this suffering with my church family, I have watched God work his grace into our lives. I have witnessed a growing sense of life-on-life in our Missional Community. I have seen the first adult make a profession of faith. I have witnessed God answer prayers and lead us in sweet worship. I have seen God call a man into ministry. I have been challenged and encouraged by the men in my Discipleship Group.
Let us remind each other that our goal is to glorify God in our mission to make disciples by transforming lives, families, and communities with the Good News of Jesus. Whatever we suffer along the way is not worth comparing to the joy that is before us.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Let us keep our eyes on Jesus. Let us work to increase the glory of God in our church and increase our joy in Him. We’re just a tool God uses to that end. And he will never leave us or forsake us. Don’t lose heart!