“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church could very easily be words to us today. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken.” His list goes on. He is writing to encourage the Corinthian Christians to keep the faith. Remember, the early Christians had a difficult time. They were trying to forge a new identity in a time when new identities were not welcome. They were constantly reminded of the fragility of human life.
The treasure of God’s presence, love, glory, and knowledge filled the lives of the Corinthians. Paul recognized that while their mortal bodies were fragile, like a clay jar, the treasure that filled them was unbreakable. In the midst of trouble, the presence and love of God was incredibly comforting. While afflictions surrounded them, the treasure of God filled the Corinthian Christians giving them confidence, comfort, and endurance.
While the afflictions may not be the same, Christians today have similar feelings of affliction and perplexity. The violence that is pervasive in our communities may afflict us. We may be perplexed by the fewer people filling our pews across the nation. Christians today and throughout history are not immune to struggles and challenges. Our lives, too, are fragile just like jars of clay. But God fills our jars and gives us the capacity to get through these challenges. We can easily get caught in them, lamenting our fragile lives. We often find ourselves in despair for our world, our challenges, and our struggles to find God in all of it.
Lent is our opportunity to be reminded that even in the troubling times, even with the journey of Holy Week looming, God is present. God is filling our fragile lives. And when the clay jars break, when our lives are overcome by the destructive forces in our world, we are reminded that God makes all things new. God brings life from death, wholeness from brokenness, order from chaos. As we come to the end of the Lenten season, consider what it looks like for you to take comfort in the treasure that fills your soul, or the treasure that fills your clay jar. How do you see the power of God at work in your life? Do you truly treasure God’s presence in your life?
It is only by your power and love that our lives our sustained. It is by your grace that we find meaning in our lives. Continue to make us aware of the treasure of your presence. Help us to see you even in times of struggle and challenge. Amen.