“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” Romans 5:3-5
I said it out loud as I sat weeping one day just over four months after Kim’s death. I had tuned in online to join with a brother and colleague, Mick Stockwell, as he and his family mourned their grandson’s tragic death. I was suffering with them, and I was enabled to suffer with them because of my own loss.
Mick’s son and the father, Christopher, said he wanted to thank God for Bridger’s life, even though only two-and-a-half-years-old. And he thanked God that he was a suffering God. He read from Isaiah where God spoke of his Son to be crushed on our behalf.
Amen, Christopher. Let that penetrate your heart, anew.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Later, Mick read out of 2 Corinthians 4 and explained that we are not crushed. Even though we are hard-pressed, we are not crushed. I opened my Bible and read it again:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed…” 2 Corinthians 4:8
Think about what it means to have a suffering God. He crushed His Son so that we are not crushed. I would have done anything and everything I could have done to avoid losing my wife, but God willingly sacrificed his own Son. We have a good and suffering God. And I was reminded that we are simply jars of clay in his hands.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
It’s a good reminder especially when facing loss: We are simple jars of clay, and we are empty without the treasure of God’s indwelling. We can press into the difficulties of life in his surpassing power. After all, he is in us, and he is being lived out. We faithfully walk through difficulties, and he shows up—he shines. Us, not so much. We’re just jars of clay. Fragile.
We may and will be afflicted at times. Be it persecution or simply the losses that come in a fallen world. By faith we can declare that we are not crushed. Jars. Prone to affliction. Prone to being crushed. Yet uncrushed. For now, we walk victoriously in an afflicted world, but step back and think on eternity for a moment. Ponder this fact of faith anew. We will not be crushed. We will be restored. Jars of clay. Filled, enthused, and blessed with a treasure.
Matthew reinforces, “…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). Everyday jars of clay are filled with an incomparable gift.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18-19