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Don’t lose heart

2020 has been a very unusual year to say the least. For most of us, as we rang in the New Year, I am sure, we did not expect many things to turn out as they have: COVID-19, shut-downs, masks, social distancing, hybrid schooling, all words that at first seemed foreign and now are common to our everyday life.

Add to that the fires on the West Coast and Midwest and the flooding hurricanes; all leaving huge destruction. Even our methods of elections and voting may be different. With the coming of Thanksgiving and Christmas warnings are being given to change some of your traditional celebrations. This leaves many unanswered feelings and emotions rather than the excitement of time-honored traditions. We are all trying to find a “new normal.”

Some people will be able to just “go with the flow” but for many, our lives can be overwhelming, unsure and even scary. This leaves people with a need for answers. God is the only one true source for these answers to have peace and hope. And God has given us an amazing gift; the scriptures.

One such scripture which helps me is in 2 Corinthians 4. Paul & Timothy wrote 2 Corinthians around 55-56 AD. The main theme of chapter 4 is “don’t lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Wherever we are in our relationship and service with God, His grace and love give us the courage to continue and to trust Him.

I specifically refer to 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” What is this treasure? It is knowing Jesus.

If you have accepted Jesus in your heart, you are saved and have eternal life and we share this treasure with others. The Treasure of Jesus is the most valuable treasure in all of Creation and the Universe. Let’s pause a second!

This is so contrary to what the world teaches and believes. The treasure of Jesus has more worth than money, cars, houses, jewels, power, position, authority, fame or just “know it all.”

A believer in Jesus Christ is the richest person on earth and eternity. Do you believe that? It can be so much easier to just believe and follow the world’s practices. But the world’s ways will not last and the world will let you down. Jesus is the only one who will always be with you the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

You may consider yourself to be unworthy to hold this treasure. The Word of God says that God in His wisdom (I think also His sense of humor) puts this Treasure in “jars of clay.” It may seem more obvious to us that God would put the treasure of Jesus in a gold or silver box or even a safe. But in a clay pot? I love terracotta but it can be easily cracked, chipped, or broken. Most potters will use raw clay to mold and shape and rework a piece of pottery. And then fire it to hardness to be used. Clay jars were used for everyday needs in Bible times. Clay jars have two things in common: they are not durable and they are breakable. These clay jars are you and me… all believers in Jesus.

Even though we are made in God’s image, our lives can be messy. Many of the “fires” we experience in life prepare or improve us so we can hold and share the treasure. And the flip side of this coin, is that we then, the clay jar, become a treasure to God. 1 Peter 2:9 TPT “But you are God’s chosen treasure… He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world.”

As a result according to 2 Corinthians 4:8-12: We may be “hard-pressed on every side” but we are not crushed. Things may have terrible stress. However, trusting God is stronger. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV. We may be “perplexed, persecuted and struck down” but we will “not despair or be abandoned or destroyed.” Why?

Because Jesus won and has overcome sin, death and the devil. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. We can live in victory by faith in Jesus Christ.

Clay jars were only meant to hold things temporarily. The same is true of believers in Jesus. But the treasure lasts forever. And because of the treasure of Jesus, so will we.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul concludes that we should not lose heart because of the Treasure we have in our hearts, Jesus. Outwardly, we may be dealing with terrible suffering and pain which can take its toll. Or things may not be as they used to be. But inwardly, spiritually, we are renewed and blessed every day because we trust in God and His love.

The Word ends with the purpose of the treasure and the clay jar is also to share this gift with others. A clay pot does not hoard the treasure for themselves. 2 Corinthians 4:6a “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts…”

When we focus on Jesus and as we let the light of Jesus shine through us, we will not lose heart. Or in other words, when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, try to ask yourself what are you focusing on? Are you focusing on the treasure that He placed in your clay jar and giving God the praise and gratefulness? When you do, than His light will shine through all the cracks and chips and then everyone is blessed.

God is good. He loves you. He has a purpose and a plan for you. Embrace His Treasure. And don’t lose heart.

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Janis Heiser of River of Life Fellowship Church, Lock Haven.

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