Jars of Clay

by Mari-Liis Duglas

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 4:7

Have you ever seen a clay jar fall on the floor?

What once seemed strong and durable suddenly yields and shatters, showing its fragility. Paul uses this image to remind us of the striking and perhaps somewhat uncomfortable truth of our fragility as carriers of God’s power and treasure. Indeed, it is good to know and recognise our strengths. Yet, perhaps it is even better to know and recognise our weaknesses, reminding us that it’s God’s strength and God’s power that we depend on. I imagine we’ve all experienced that feeling of ‘free-fall’ at points in our lives – when we realise that our strength, wisdom, skills, and enthusiasm just won’t cut it. Challenging though these moments may be, they present us with an opportunity to seek out and be cared for by the one who has all that we need in abundance.

“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

Have you ever seen a clay jar fall, but be caught just at the right moment?

Though we are often weak and fragile like jars of clay, Paul also reminds us that we have a God with all-suprassing power – He is never late. So even in moments of ‘free-fall’ as we’re heading towards the ground, we can have confidence that our God will be there to catch us just at the right time. Though you may feel hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, you will not be crushed, you will not be in despair, you are not abandoned, and you will not be destroyed (2 Cor 4:8-9). We can have confidence not because of our worthiness or our performance, but because of His worthiness and what He has already done for us.   

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:15-16

Now imagine this clay jar being filled with your most precious treasures.

I wonder what your jar would be filled with. Would it be a prize or trophy for an achievement? Would it be an expensive item you’ve worked hard for? Would it be things of sentimental value? Would it be something that reminds you of an adventure you’ve been on or a significant time in your life? Whatever our treasures may be, I imagine they’d be a bit like puzzle pieces, filling in parts of the story of who we are. In Jesus’ saving sacrifice, we have been made carriers of God’s treasure – ‘the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’ (v. 6). Paul reminds us that we carry within us God’s all-surpassing power, and the light of the Gospel that gives us access to the Father. And though we are weak, He is not.

How will you depend on God’s all-surpassing power this week?