Our life begins with a countdown. We don’t know how long, but one day we will die. Each day our body changes as it moves us unrelentlessly toward that day of reckoning, first growth and the upward climb and then the inevitable decline.
From the first day, we’re broken. However, we believe we’re invincible, and so, we’re reckless, careless with our bodies and our safety. We attempt stairs before we’re able and tumble down. We fall off high places. We hurl our bodies at one another in sport. We drive with reckless abandon. We burn the candle at both ends. We take ridiculous risks. Our understanding of cause and effect matures throughout the course of our lives.
In truth, we’re as fragile as pottery. We’re dust made into human beings, created in the image of God with his breath in our lungs. Into this clay, God’s light shines into our hearts, and he gives us “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6b NIV).
Though previously we were blind, God opens our eyes to see.In truth, we're as fragile as pottery. We're dust made into human beings, created in the image of God, his breath in our lungs. Into this clay form, God's light shines into our hearts, opening our eyes to see. Click To Tweet
When that occurs, we recognize truth about ourselves, our deep need, and our abject brokenness. Simultaneously, we see the glory of God’s Son, crucified, dead, buried, and risen for our sins. We desire relationship with this God who loves us so fiercely. We run into his open arms, yearning to be loved and truly seen in ways that no mere human can ever see or love us.
We become his. He becomes ours.
And then, God grows us, imparting wisdom in so many ways. Often we learn from his Word. More often than not it’s the school of hard knocks as our cause-and-effect awareness is honed. Tragedy, illness, aging, and finally death teach us our own mortality.
Why would the Lord have it so? Why are the trials and tragedies required? Why do our bodies need to be broken?
Thankfully, he answers these questions plainly.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV).
- To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us
- So that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies
In short, we need Jesus. We’re made to need God. Until we’re made right with him, we are undone.In short, we need Jesus. We're made to need God. Until we're made right with him, we are undone. Click To Tweet
And so, he shows himself strong in our trials. Until we come to our end, we’re squeezed and pummelled by life. The only thing that prevents us from being crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, and destroyed is God himself. When we do not turn to him, we feel crushed, despairing, forsaken, and destroyed.
However, when we do turn to him, we are upheld in our devastation, comforted, and carried through, for he never, ever forsakes us, whether we feel his nearness or not. His presence is a fact.
Lately, as more things break and fall apart, I’ve felt death at work in my body. I’m a sojourner through pain. I awaken in the darkness, cognizant of the attack within every cell of my body, experiencing it on a bone and cellular level. I myself am the enemy. My own immune system takes me down.
When I awaken in this state, God is with me. I am not alone. I am not forsaken.
Though I may feel the terror, he is right inside my head, hearing every thought, knowing every need, even before I do. I comfort myself with this truth. I cry out to him.
And, of course, God has words of comfort for me in this.
“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. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (2 Corinthians 4:11-14 ESV).
There’s much beauty here. We, both you and I, are being given over to death for the sake of Jesus, so his life might be revealed in our weak and broken clay forms. His power, his presence, his nearness, his Spirit, all within our flesh, so that he can change us spiritually from the inside out, and at last, finally, “he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.”
Unless Christ returns first, to be whole and at one with him, we must become like him in his death. We must die. The signs of our aging and the decay of our bodies are thus signposts of rejoicing, rather than omens to fear or dread.Unless Christ returns first, to be whole and at one with him, we must become like him in his death. We must die. The signs of our aging and the decay of our bodies are thus signposts of rejoicing, rather than omens to fear or dread. Click To Tweet
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:10-21 NIV).
The day draws near. These passages give me great comfort. What about you?
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