Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
7-12 This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar—to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us. We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. Yes, we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives. We are always facing death, but this means that you know more and more of life. (JBP)
We hear so many glowing testimonies from people who seem to be on top of things. Prayers are answered; friends converted; businesses thrive; families prosper; churches grow; sicknesses healed. Wonderful news which can in some cases have a less than wonderful impact on those that hear such reports.
We can feel very discouraged that we are not experiencing those very things. What is wrong with us? Are we spiritual pygmies in the company of giants? Do we lack faith? Do we sin too much?
We can take comfort from Paul who was truly a mighty man of God and yet who was not ashamed to admit his struggles and weakness. It is dangerous to think that the only testimonies we need to offer the church or the world are those of great success. Not only are they inclined to egotism but they are not a fair reflection of the nature of Christian life throughout history.
Philip Yancey puts it well: “In an odd way the very failures of the church prove its doctrine. Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part. We in the church have humility and contrition to offer the world, not a formula for success. Almost alone in our success oriented society, we admit that we have failed, are failing, and will always fail. That is why we return to God so desperately.”