Years ago, a colleague offered to give my family a couple of Li’l Tikes play sets. I’m not sure if he had purchased them new, but his kids had outgrown them. Believe it or not, even after my own children used these playsets for their own games, after more than a decade in our household, we were still able to pass one of them along to another family.
Similarly, Twinkies (I’m told) theoretically have a 7-year shelf life; however, many believe that they will pretty much last forever. They are about as immortal as processed food gets (and are probably equally unhealthy when eaten fresh, as they are at 7 years old).
Unfortunately, we’re not so indestructible. Even our own bodies sometimes feel like they have been the target of years of preschoolers (like the playset), or months sitting on the shelf of a convenience store (like a lonely Twinkie). We may feel beaten down emotionally, or just plain worn out.
And, even when we are holding together ok, the world around us is decaying. Anything we own wears out: phone screens get cracked, appliances give out, and cars need expensive repairs.
Paul, in the book of Second Corinthians, encourages those of us in this situation.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NASB
Note that he doesn’t suggest that we won’t have challenges, only that we have hope through the challenges.
In the series of “The Legend of Zelda” video games, whenever a new game is released, veteran players of the series expect a few things: The protagonist will probably wear a hooded green hat (and is usually named, “Link”). The final boss will likely be defeated with some sort of master sword. And, the player will almost certainly smash a lot of clay pots to collect money and other resources.
The “earthen vessels” (or “jars of clay”) in the passage above remind me of that video game series. I envision myself getting bashed by the world around me. I feel like a hapless clay pot at the receiving end of a heavy blow.
The good news, though, is that – unlike the clay pots that Link smashes – I’m not obliterated. God works through me to strengthen me, and to protect me. Like the coyote (from the Warner Brothers’ roadrunner cartoons) running up to a painting in the side of the mountain (that looks like a road), problems smash up against me, and – with God’s help – I’m left standing. This isn’t because I’m Superman, but because God fills me with His power. On my own – hollow, fragile, and weak – I would break under pressure. With God’s help, I’m filled with strength (even on days I don’t feel like it) and can hold up under duress.
I hope that you have found the same source of strength. The world may rage around us, but we – with God’s help – can endure throughout whatever it throws at us.