2 Corinthians 4:7
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
In this passage, the apostle Paul draws a great contrast between our weak and fragile humanity and the power of God that dwells within us, which we receive when we first believe on Christ.
When we read of the difficulties that Paul endured (2 Cor 11:22-33), we are tempted to think of him as some superhuman, a person with some extraordinary physical and emotional strength; but as we read the rest of the epistle, we see him to be an ordinary man, and one subject to the same trials and weaknesses as we are. So what was the thing that kept him going, in spite of these weaknesses? This passage tells us, that it was the power of God working in him through the gospel.
We tend to think of the gospel as that power of God that transforms us when we first believe on Christ; but it is that same faith in Christ that keeps us and empowers us to live out our Christian life; because in the gospel is the God of that gospel, who comes to indwell us and continues to renew us.
Hence, we are able to bear hardships:
“8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
This seems like a paradox; how can a weak and dying person be able to stand up to all the things mentioned in verses 8 & 9? The answer is given in verse 10; the “life of Jesus” in us keeps us from being crushed and despairing. Hallelujah!
I like this quote from Hudson Taylor:
“Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and presence to be with them.”
And also like this quote from Karl Schelkle:
“God makes weak men the vessels of his grace, so that their power may be recognized as the power of God, as coming from God, and not confused with human ability.”
This same gospel treasure gives us confidence in the resurrection (2 Cor 4:14); and enables us to see our trials as light and momentary compared to the glory that awaits us (2 Cor 4:17).