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“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

St Paul wrote those words in the context of the intense persecution he faced as he brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the towns and cities of the Eastern Mediterranean.  If you read the list of his hardships in 2 Corinthians 11 you will see that “hard pressed, persecuted and abandoned” are not exaggerations.  We don’t face what he faced, but some of you feel hard pressed on many sides.  But are we crushed?

We’re not.  Why not?  We share Paul’s secret power source.  It’s mentioned in the previous verse: “We have the gospel treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us”.      

In ourselves, we are like fragile jars of clay.  Yet the good news of Jesus Christ in within us.  His death and resurrection have put us right with God.  God loves us forever!  When the pressures mount and we are struck down with more blows than we feel able to withstand, the clay seems like it’s going to shatter.   But it doesn’t!  We’re still standing because the treasure within sustains us.  An unseen power somehow carries us through.  The gospel message, reinforces us by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I look at fellow believers whose lives are tough, and wonder how they can still keep going.  Then I remember: it’s the treasure within that’s keeping them going!  It’s God’s power, not theirs.

And that’s what God intends to show through our clay-like fragility.  God’s power – that’s the only explanation for Paul’s endurance.  Perhaps looking back you can see that nothing but his power can account for the fact you are still standing.   Looking forward, trust and know that it’s his power that will carry you through uncrushed. 

 


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