But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18 (NIV)
People respond very differently to pressure. For some pressure is a stimulus to knuckle down and work harder; for others pressure causes them to stall and slow down, or even stop.
In the verses above from 2 Corinthians, Paul contrasts the all-surpassing power from God with the pressure he feels from the opposition and persecution he faces. He says he is:
- hard pressed – not crushed;
- perplexed – not in despair;
- persecuted – not abandoned;
- struck down – not destroyed.
Paul says that it is because we are weak human beings (jars of clay), that God’s power is seen more clearly. Human beings would naturally buckle under the pressure, but as spiritual beings we can rely on God’s power to strengthen us. His powere is demonstrated by the fact that we are not crushed, despairing, abandoned or destroyed. It is God’s power and strength that gets us through these difficulties.
It is because of this all-surpassing power of God that Paul says ‘… we do not lose heart’.
Paul uses further contrasts to make a point – he mentions ‘light and momentary troubles’ – and – ‘eternal glory’. What he is saying is that the situations we find ourselves in on earth are nothing in comparison to what we shall discover in eternity.
Additionally, he contrasts ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ with ‘temporary’ and ‘eternal’. Paul reminds us that what we see is not all there is – there is a spiritual dimension to life.
Of course the cares of life and the pressures we face should not be underestimated, but Paul’s words should encourage us to keep our focus on the spiritual, on the eternal, on Jesus!
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (v18).
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