Oh, how I wish I still had it sitting on my kitchen table! Of all the vases that have graced my table, this beautiful red and yellow vase was my absolute favorite! The porcelain vase was delightfully shaped, vibrantly colored, and filled with a gorgeous collection of silk flowers. I loved the vase mostly because it represented my sweet mom. Mom had carefully chosen the vase for me as a birthday gift then filled it with beautiful red silk roses, brown twigs, yellow tulips, and other greenery. She was thrilled to present it to me as a token of her love and care! Little did I know at the time this vase would be the last gift from my mom before she met Jesus. After Mom’s death, I cherished this vase dearly and was reminded of her love each time I passed the kitchen table.
A few months after Mom’s death, my dear husband somehow managed to shatter the vase. . . and I mean shatter! You can imagine the tears that flowed from my eyes and the sadness I felt in my heart. Of course accidents happen, but I struggled with this one! While I was away that afternoon from the house, Jason worked diligently to glue the vase back together for me. He felt awful and knew how much I valued that vase. He spent hours piecing the vase back together. . . gluing piece after piece after piece.
When I arrived home later that evening, the vase was sitting once again on my kitchen table! Jason had repaired the cracks (although you could still slightly see it had been broken) and placed the flowers back inside. Even though the vase didn’t look quite as pretty as before, it was still special to me because it came from my mom. I remembered her each time I looked at it. As I held the vase up to the window to inspect the repair job, little slivers of light were shining through some of the repaired cracks. The vase was far from perfect, but it still was able to fulfill it’s purpose. The vase actually became even more special to me at this point because it represented the love of my mom and the love of my husband who spent hours to repair it.
Several weeks ago, the Lord led me to begin studying the book of 2 Corinthians. My heart has been captivated with the words found in chapter 4 particularly. In chapter 4, Paul points out in verse 6-7, “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
So often in the past few months as I’ve struggled with various circumstances in my life, I have become very aware of my own fragility. I have found myself easily shattered, easily broken, and easily cracked. Admitting my own weaknesses and fragile nature requires much humility on my part. Our world doesn’t applaud a “weak woman” and tends to condemn those who admit a struggle.
But God’s Word clearly states that we are like “fragile clay jars“. I imagine that I am much like my treasured red and yellow porcelain vase. I will be easily shattered. I will get knocked down through a circumstance and may look beyond repair. I will struggle while on this earth.
Paul says in verses 8-10, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
Paul does not diminish the fact that I will struggle in this life. He openly shares his own stories of suffering. However, he clearly points to the greater reality of God’s light shining in our hearts. The same God who spoke light into darkness at the beginning of Creation is shining light into my heart darkness! Because of God’s grace, my fragile jar of clay is able to contain a wonderful and great treasure. . .Jesus Christ!
Just as the treasured and repaired vase represented my mom, in the same way, my broken and fragile life displays someone greater–JESUS!! It is Jesus whose light shines brightly in my darkness. His light shines through the cracks in my life. Just as glue held the vase together, it is Jesus who holds my cracked pieces together. Others are able to see His great power rather than my weaknesses. “This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (vs. 7)
It’s easy to resent being a “fragile clay jar“. . . I mean, who really wants to be weak? I would definitely rather not deal with my weaknesses, insecurities, and struggles. But the truth is this–It’s in my weakness that I realize the source of true strength is Jesus Christ. I find Jesus to be the real treasure!
Because of God’s mercy, I now have His light shining in my heart revealing the true and great treasure of Christ in me, the hope of glory! That’s reason to celebrate and rejoice!
I am learning that in the hard and messy seasons of life, God is always at work! I am never abandoned by God. I have the power of Christ in me–given to me at salvation by the God who spoke light into the darkness! He desires for me to know His glory and to know Jesus Christ’s power! Through my suffering in this world, I’m given an opportunity to display the great treasure of Jesus Christ and identify in His suffering for us. (vs. 10)
Paul reminded the Corinthian believers in vs. 15 that suffering ( and God’s work in our lives) is for our benefit and the benefit of others. “All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” God desires all glory! God deserves all glory! As I know and experience the power and grace of God in the darker places of my own life, I am enabled to shine His light into the darkness of another. My fragile life becomes evidence of something greater than myself. . . and God receives more thanksgiving and more glory!
I love the way The Message reads in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”
What keeps us going in the shattered days of our lives? What compels us to persevere in our weaknesses? How do we continue to shine His light when our lives feel wrecked and in a million pieces?
It’s knowing the truth that Jesus Christ is the treasure within us that will always be shining His light into our darkness. Not a day goes by without his unfolding grace!
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 HCSB)
Are you feeling today like my shattered vase? Do you feel as if you’ve been glued back together? Does your life feel as if there are lots of cracks in it. . . things that don’t make sense, situations that seem impossible to handle, circumstances that keep you awake at night?
Encourage your heart with these simple truths:
1. God understands our fragility and offers Himself to us as an incredible source of strength.
2. His light always shines brighter than our darkness.
3. We are never abandoned. . . God has given us the greatest treasure within our hearts–Jesus Christ!
4. In our suffering, God is always at work to change us into His image, encourage other believers, and to magnify His great name.
5. Our suffering and weaknesses won’t last forever. . . “for the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” Eternity with Jesus is just around the corner!
A few years ago, my special vase was eventually shattered once more by one of my children and became irreparable. No super glue would hold all of the pieces together again! My sweet husband gave it his best effort but to no avail.
I’m so thankful that although I am a fragile jar of clay, there is nothing in my life that can become irreparable. My God is the ultimate Healer and Restorer. He creates beauty from ashes. He heals the brokenhearted. He redeems and makes all things new!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!. . .what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5