“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. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
When the Apostle Paul wrote the verses above, he was speaking to the Church. Do you know what the all-surpassing power he’s referring to is? It’s this — the ability of first century believers to heal the sick, raise the dead, prophesy, and operate in the gifts of the Spirit as well as the gifts of encouragement. Just think, they were doing all of those things without the New Testament; they didn’t have it yet because they were the ones who ultimately wrote it. Yet because of Christ’s great power within them, they endured and displayed His power in magnificent ways!
Interestingly, persecution was probably the greatest catalyst to the amazing outpouring of God’s Spirit in the lives of first century Christians. This is why being hard-pressed sits side-by-side with Jesus’ all-surpassing power in the verses above. In fact, the same principle still applies today: if you want to grow a church, make worshipping and gathering illegal. If you want the greatness of God’s power to be displayed among a group of believers, persecute them! You see, when you kill something in Christ, you only give it more life! This is why we can be can be hard pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, and struck down but not destroyed.
Friend, no matter what trial you face, Jesus’ power is greater, so great that even death itself cannot overcome it! Those who come to the judgement seat of Christ without knowing Him will have to show Him their resume, but when you come face-to-face with your Father in Heaven, you can show Him Jesus’ resume. Since He who knew no sin became sin for you, you have become the righteousness of God — that’s what it means to be saved! Remember, you can’t have the life of Jesus without also embracing His death, because it was by Him laying Himself down that your greatest and most abundant life was bought! What an incredible exchange!
Jesus, thank you for laying down your life for me so that I can know your all-surpassing power in the midst of struggle and oppression. I choose to embrace your death so that I can also have your abundant life.
Have persecution and hardship ever been the catalyst for a display of God’s all-surpassing power in your life?