Summary: When life hits you hard, don’t let it knock you down.

When Trials Become Triumphs

When Jason Lester was 12 years old, he was hit by a car and suffered a paralyzed arm. Decades later, he’d be a world-class endurance sports champion. Today, he can swim faster, ride further and run incredible distances as an Ironman and Ultraman, and he does it all without the full use of his right arm. In 2009, he was named the ESPY award winner for "Best Male Athlete with a Disability" and the first male triathlete to win such an honor. In addition to numerous championships, he’s also the author of the book Running on Faith, the autobiography that chronicles his rise to fame and how his belief in God got him there. His relentless message is summed up well when he wrote, “If you don’t stop, you can’t be stopped.”

Have you ever experienced those times when life hits you hard?

Have you ever felt so down you feel like giving up?

Financial difficulty. Physical disability. Terrible employer. Disgusting employee. Abusive relationship. Failed marriage. Deteriorating health. Problematic business. Rebellious child. Cheating spouse. Shattered dreams. Unanswered prayers. Unresolved conflict.

When life hits you hard, don’t let it knock you down.

John Piper worded it for us clearly, "Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback… God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ."

Life, in other words, is essentially good lumped with the bad – with the bad intended only to bring out the good in us. Hence, when the bad turns up and comes along, we should remember that everything happens for a reason. It is in our dire times that we must purposefully choose to trust steadily in the faithfulness of the God who promised that He knows the plans He has for us.

Today, we will look at a passage in the Bible where the Apostle Paul encourages believers… that when we go through difficult times… when life hits hard and trials seem to be painful… it is during those times when God brings out the best in us and shows us the best in Him.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NIV

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Let us come to God in prayer…

When life hits you hard, don’t let it knock you down.

There are at least three powerful truths that we can learn from this passage about our trials…

(1) Trials Show God’s Power

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

"Earthen" jars or "clay" jars, as opposed to bronze ones, were readily discarded; because clay was ordinary and always available, such containers were cheap and disposable if they were broken or became dirty — an odd container for a rich treasure.

Paul contrasts between the message of the gospel and the messenger of the gospel. The fantastic message of the good news in Jesus Christ is carried by frail and fragile messengers. The main point is that God has purposely designed it this way so that there will be no mistake as to the source of the great life-changing power of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This point is illustrated in verse 7 by the contrast between a treasure and a clay jar.

At the time this Scripture was written, earthenware vessels (clay jars) were very plentiful in that part of the world. They were used as containers to hold water or food. Sometimes these clay pots were used to hold things of greater worth, such as money, jewels, or even parchments. It was composed of a cheap clay pitcher or jar containing olive oil and a floating wick. All of these pottery vessels were easy to purchase and broke just as easily. In fact, such potsherds can still be seen among ancient ruins today.

Thus the contrast between the carrier and the content of the Christian message is well illustrated. The message of the gospel is precious and valuable like a treasure of jewels or light, but it is purposely contained in common and ordinary-looking human "vessels of clay."

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