Image Credit to Erik Johannson
“ 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.” -2 Corinthians 4:7–12
This morning, this powerful passage leaped off the page, grabbed me by the collar and pulled me in. I had to speak on it, yet my words will never do it justice. It’s stands on it’s own, and it’s heartbreaking that with or without eloquent words I (or others) may muster up, some will never understand it for as previous verses state:
“3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” — 2 Corinthians 4:3–4
Yet still, for my own sake, so that I may process these words, I write this for a more fuller understanding.
I think about suffering when I read this…
I think about Paul’s words in a later chaper of this same letter:
“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9
We are not perfect, so that God can be. We are not perfect, but God is. We are not perfect, and God is. But that’s not all…
Everything is perishing. The strongest building. The most robust machines. The most protected cloud servers. Your information. Your jewels. Your work. All are perishing. You are perishing. But that’s not all…
What gives life, gives life so that He may be made known. By these perishing instruments, He makes Himself known…forever! Passing His name from vessel to vessel, so that for the brief life span of a single vessel, He may give joy, life and purpose to something that is here today and gone tomorrow. But that’s not all…
Your computer has a lot of information on it. Some of that information you consider to be more important than others. You may have your password protected important documents in a server or cloud-based application, while music may lie in some unprotected folder on your laptop. Both are perishing. Destined for destruction. However, you may ask a loved one to preserve some of that data upon your demise by transferring it to another server, or to a company whose job is to secure digital data.
For those who are not computer savvy, you may have your valuables stored in a safe, or lockbox, or you may store it with the bank to keep it even more secure. The value of these items, or data may require that they continue to be moved from location to location; but they also need to viewed occasionally. They need to be viewed occasionally, because they were meant to be viewed, be they documents, precious jewels or data. They were meant to be used, but they need to be preserved.
What they are stored in are perishable, arbitrary and inconsequential apart from the fact that they contain priceless items. Items protected, secured to be revealed.
This is us. We are perishing. We will all die. Yet, we live for a moment. Let Paul say it:
“We are hard-pressed…crushed…perplexed…persecuted…struck down…”
I love “perplexed”!!!! I am. We are! “…but not in despair.”
Oh! We are so fragile. Yet, we are emboldened, strengthened for the sake of what is within…for the sake of our purpose.
We are perplexed. We don’t even understand from moment to moment what we are carrying, what is the meaning of this suffering we endure. We have no idea… “but (we are) not in despair.”
It doesn’t make sense to the world. It barely makes sense to us.
I’m speechless. I love this passage.
And because of verse 3 & 4, I think about those who have not yet believed; who “the god of this age has blinded.” My mind goes to “those who he predestined” that are spoken of Romans 8:30. I think of God’s 2 wills: what He wants, and what He establishes. I think that our understanding of destiny as being attached to a particular outcome is insufficient to explain the “destiny” of sin and sinners. I believe the “predestined” are attached to something more fluid (not solid); a process rather than a situation. Perhaps those who he predestined are those who walk through “the door” and commit to the process (rather than those selected at random at birth). He knows the end from the beginning, but that does not mean He designed it so that some may fail before they begin. In fact, everything He says counters any possibility of this being the case.
I love thinking about Time Travel. I love thinking about how systems work together (system dynamics). I love thinking that I can one day understand “chaos theory.” I don’t understand even a fraction of it. What I do know and understand is that any machine…any system is composed of moving parts…the number of moving parts can be one, or infinite. The more complex the system (the more moving parts), the harder it is to predict what will happen if a single change is made to a single part of the machine.
Occasionally, the question arises in my mind: “Which is more important, the process or the outcome?”
I have asked this question before. The answer changes from situation to situation based on relevance.
We put a lot of weight on outcomes. On the idea that an end is made significant by it’s beginning; or that a beginning is justified by it’s end.
Process can be too overwhelming for us to allow our minds to consider its implications.
But what if sometimes the process is the most important thing.
What if, for God, the process…of walking through a door…or persevering through the trials…or not getting discouraged…or figuring our the solution…is more important that where you were in the beginning or the physical location you arrive at in the end.