"We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that this immeasurable power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out."
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 TPT
I think we often forget that we are at war. It makes sense; we crave comfort and control...two things that are not often found in the midst of battle. We like to claim the victory; but in order for there to be victory, there must first be a battle. We tend to find ourselves blindsided when troubles or tragedy invade our lives, but the truth is that Jesus never said it was going to be easy. He actually said the opposite:
And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” John 16:33 TPT
Jesus calls us to "take heart" (NIV, NLT, MSG) - to be brave, to gain courage or confidence, to begin to feel better and more hopeful. Is this confidence in ourselves, because we are strong and we can handle whatever comes our way? No! We are called to be brave in the battle because we are reminded that He is with us and He is for us. We can rest assured that ultimately, though Him, we are victorious. And we can be confident because He has provided us with head to toe armor...we need only to remember to put it on! (see Ephesians 6:10-20)
In the opening scripture from 2 Corinthians, Paul is reminding us of our weakness, our fragility as human beings (jars of clay) and assures us that we fill face difficulties. We don't always have control of our circumstances, but we can control how we respond or react to them. As I reflected on the cracks (the wounds, the trauma) we acquire throughout our lives, three things came to mind.
1) "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen
It is in the struggles and challenges of life that we often find ourselves most open to God's help. We tend to seek Him the most desperately in these times, and they can often be a place of great growth.
2) These cracks can also be how the light gets out into the world. 2 Corinthians 4 reminds us that as followers, we carry the light of Christ. Our perseverance in the midst of trials reveals His power. We reflect His light even in our brokenness (perhaps even because of it).
3) We can embrace the cracks, becase they are a reminder of our unique journey. Kitsugi, or golden joinery, is a Japanese method of repairing broken pottery. It celebrates the unique history of a piece, emphasizing its fractures and breaks, rather than trying to conseal them. Kitsugi embraces the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, meaning "seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect." Likewise, if we seek the Healer in our brokenness, He can take the ashes of our lives and turn them into something beautiful.
So yes, we are at war. And yes, our bodies, hearts and minds are vulnerable to injury. But we must not give up. We must keep on fighting the good fight, keeping our eyes fixed on the One that promises our ultimate victory.
"So no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day. We view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal, weighty glory far beyond all comparison, because we don’t focus our attention on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but the unseen realm is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 TPT