Summary: Hope in suffering comes when we are able to focus, not on the troubles around us, but on God¡¦s hidden treasure within and before us.
I¡¦ve noticed in counseling with people over the years that people lose their bearings when they get bad news. Perhaps you saw the story this week about a man in Hollywood, California. Three Marines came to his home to break the news to him that his son had died in the service of his country. The distraught father went out to the garage, grabbed a bottle of propane and a can of gasoline, broke open the window of the Marine Corps van, got inside, doused the van and himself and set himself on fire, before the Marines pulled him out of the van and put out the flames.
When bad things happen, we often lose perspective on our lives or on the things that matter the most to us. I¡¦ve seen people shun their friends. I¡¦ve seen people stop caring about their health or appearance. I¡¦ve seen people push God away.
This is a challenge. When times get tough, it¡¦s easy to lose sight of God and his promises. When you¡¦re suffering, even the visible things lose focus. But God¡¦s presence in and with you is invisible. The future hope of eternity is invisible.
What¡¦s more, the culture we live in doesn¡¦t help. Our culture¡¦s preoccupation is to live as long as possible, as healthy as possible, and with as much money as possible. This view has dramatically impacted the church. It changes how we view suffering and how we view eternity. It makes it hard for us to fix our eyes on what is unseen, because we are so enamored with what we can touch and see. So anything less than our expectations for peace, comfort and health becomes a disappointment with God.
So how do we keep sight of reality? How can we see beyond our suffering? Today¡¦s passage alternates between two themes, which I¡¦m going to call ¡§trouble¡¨ and ¡§treasure.¡¨ I want to encourage you that hope in suffering comes when we are able to focus, not on the troubles around us, but on God¡¦s hidden treasure within and before us.
I. OUR TROUBLES CONCEAL DIVINE TREASURE (6-9)
¡§For God, who said, ¡¥Let light shine out of darkness,¡¦ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 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.¡¨
A. AS A CHRISTIAN, YOU POSSESS DIVINE HIDDEN TREASURE
1. God has performed an act of new creation in your life
a. in the beginning, Genesis 1, God said: ¡§let there be light¡¨
- as (6) says: ¡§let light shine out of darkness¡¨
- and light was created and filled the universe
b. if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God has created a second time
- he ¡§made his light shine in your heart¡¨
- it¡¦s the light of knowing the glory of God
= as it comes to us in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
- on our own, our spiritual lights were turned out
= we were blind to spiritual things / they made no sense to us
= we did not have the capacity to know God
- but when you come to Jesus, God works an inner transformation
= your spiritual eyes are opened
= you become a new person
= God himself becomes present within you
= his glory takes up residence inside you
= begins to transform you from within
2. (7): this is a treasure of surpassing value and power
a. have you ever contemplated what it means „³ the Holy Spirit of God lives in you?
- that (if you¡¦re a Xian) you possess the ability to know God personally & intimately?
b. human beings have been searching for this spiritual reality from the beginning of civilization
- entire religions have been created
- elaborate rituals and philosophical systems have been formulated to satisfy man¡¦s longing for the transcendent
c. in the person of JC, the light, presence and power of God in you¡K
- is a treasure beyond any worldly measure of worth
But wait! You¡¦re thinking: I don¡¦t believe it. I don¡¦t feel like God is alive in me. When I look in the mirror, I don¡¦t see light streaming from my eyes and ears. So how can this statement be true?
B. WE CAN¡¦T SEE THE TREASURE BECAUSE OF OUR OWN WEAKNESS
1. first, we¡¦re finite and mortal creatures
a. (7): ¡§we have this treasure in jars of clay¡¨
- instead of being housed in a magnificent urn or jeweled box¡K
= the treasure of God¡¦s presence is hidden inside an ordinary, common clay pot