II CORINTHIANS 4:7-12: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
OBSERVATION: I wonder if Paul would be invited to preach at many churches today? When I read these verses it strikes me that his message is so much different than the messages we hear today. We live in an age of “instant” everything. We want the finished product, but we do not want to pay the price. We want riches, but we don’t want to work. We want fame, but we abhor sacrifice. We want ease and comfort, but we recoil at hardship. This is not real life! This is not the Gospel.
Now, I am like most people. I don’t want to go through difficult times. Yet, reality check – they still come! Life is difficult, just ask anyone who is honest. I love the story of Walt Disney. What we see is the finished product of Disneyland, movies, and an empire that seems magical. What we don’t see is the life of a man who delivered newspapers for years in the wee hours of the morning for his father, had his original creation (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit) stolen by a major studio, experienced numerous failures, almost went bankrupt several times, and faced insurmountable odds in achieving what he did. The backstory of Walt Disney’s life reads more like these verses in II Corinthians.
My grandfather, Ernest Anderegg, was born in 1900. Growing up in a home where he was abused he ran away at 13. He hopped freight cars and took odd jobs. He was no more than 5′ 4″ tall, but to me he was a giant. He learned a trade as a tool and die maker. Always a hard worker he made a life for himself out of nothing, married my grandmother, and raised three wonderful children. He walked through untold hardship during the Great Depression and World Wars I and II. Yet, his faith and his love made him an overcomer. He was my hero in life and taught me that difficulty in life can either make you stronger or break you. It is really a matter of your “perspective” and your “position”.
“Perspective”. The Bible calls us to see the times of difficulty as opportunities for experiencing the power of God in our lives. We always have a choice when we face difficulty. We can try to get through it in our own strength, or we can call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and see His life and power become our overcoming strength and victory. In fact, this is the progression of our entire Christian life – “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
“Position”. When I am positioned in Jesus Christ, when my faith is in him and not in my own wisdom or strength, the life of Jesus is manifested in my weak mortal flesh. The supernatural invades the natural. The Divine invades the human. The limitless invades the limited. As long as I am trusting in myself this power is not working in my life. However, when I am brought to the place where there is no one or nothing else to trust in but Christ alone – I enter into the power of His glory! Without difficulty in life I will never come to this place of surrender, power, and victory. So like the chorus of a worship song we sing on Sunday – “So bring on the wind, bring on the waves – our God is stronger!”
This same Paul writes these words in II Corinthians 12 – “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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
Lord, thank you for the victory that is mine in Jesus Christ. When I face difficulty in life, help me not to run to escape it – help me to run to You! Allow Your life to be my victory, to give me strength to overcome, and to bring light out of the darkness. Help me to enter fully into Your life today – In Jesus Name!