Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK FIFTEEN
ORBIT – DAY SEVENTY-ONE
Hello and welcome to another Orbit, the daily Bible reading from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Our aim with this little devotional time is to get you connected with God each day, to help you build a lifelong rhythm of checking in with the most important person in the universe.
BIBLE READING – 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12
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. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
There is no way of getting around it: the last year has been unspeakably tough. Whether we have been dealing with cancelled exams, the loss of a loved one or simply feeling anxious and stir crazy from so much time cooped up at home, we have all known the limitations of our humanity in this time of pandemic. Even if we had been the most confident and privileged people going into that first lockdown, all of us have had to deal with being told ‘no’: with having restrictions imposed and doors closed in our faces. We haven’t been allowed to travel, go to school, and in some cases go to work.
The reason why we’ve chosen to look at Paul throughout all of the episodes of Orbit so far, is that he is someone who had to live out Christian faith in a time of great restriction. Paul’s people, the Jews, were living under Roman occupation – which means an enemy had invaded and taken over their country. And once he became a Christian, he joined a religious sect which was anything from frowned-upon to outlawed, depending on where in the Empire you happened to be. He faced arrest, imprisonment, beatings and threats upon his life, and experienced all of these as he sought to help the early church grow. That’s why in this passage, He talks about being “hard-pressed on every side”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, “struck down.” He had it as tough as anyone; he may not have had to deal with coronavirus, but he knew what it was to follow Jesus under pressure.
That isn’t all that Paul says here however. Alongside that list of troubles that he’s having to endure, Paul also lists his hopes. Although they are “hard pressed on every side”, Paul and his companions are not crushed. Although they are confused, they are not hopeless. Although they are suffering persecution, they do not feel abandoned. Although they are facing physical violence, they are able to endure it and recover. Paul knows that ultimately, faith in God will see him through, because God can be trusted to always come through for us.
In fact, Paul says, our weak human bodies and their limitations allow God’s glory to be clearly seen. God is changing the world in Paul’s time through a handful of untrained, largely uneducated men and women who have little more going for them than their faith in him. He describes these bodies as “Jars of Clay”: fragile containers which are nonetheless filled with the awesome and unimaginable power of God.
Isn’t that an absolutely incredible picture? That the God who created the universe, invests his power into fragile, limited human beings like Paul and his followers. But of course, it’s not just Paul – we too become those “jars of clay” when we choose to follow Jesus. We are weak and fragile and we feel that especially when times are tough, but it doesn’t matter – we have the eternal power of God within us – we are literally containers for God’s glory.
Ultimately, that is why Paul – and we – are able to endure intense times of persecution and difficulty. I am not saying that it is easy, but in the end, the hope that is within us is enough. God brings glory to himself by using us – the weak things of this world – to overcome the strong. We are jars of clay – weak and humble vessels which are nevertheless entrusted with his full glorious power.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
God I thank you that you have called me to be a Jar of clay and to hold the treasure of your presence and power in my weak and fragile body. I pray that you would use me to bring glory to yourself, and give me the strength to endure the hard times, as well as the ability to experience peace, joy and love at all times. Amen.
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Take some time to reflect today on the last year. Perhaps make a few notes, if you find that helpful. Where have you felt far from God? Where have times felt almost too tough to endure? Ask God to show you where he was present and at work – and perhaps even working through you – in those times. We know that God works through all things for our good, even if we struggle to see it at the time, so see today if the benefit of distance and hindsight allows you to see more clearly what he might have been up to.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback