Jars of Clay

Philip, a former student of mine, along with his precious wife and children, are missionaries in Greece. Philip recently recounted the story of Hassan, a Christian refugee from Iran. Philip was sitting in the Sunday night worship service at a Persian church in Athens when Hassan suddenly walked in. Immediately the service stopped and everyone rushed back to hug him. Hassan had just been released from prison, where he had spent six months.

Hassan had fled Iran because there was no freedom. He had lost everything as he traveled through Turkey and crossed the border into Greece. Without the right papers, he was caught and put in prison. Even after he was released, things were not easy. Without a job and money, he

Hassan’s life was very difficult, but others could immediately see that he was a man who knew Jesus Christ. He had a joy that was obvious. He loved to be in church on Sundays. He loved to be with God’s people. And he loved to worship his savior. Hassan later moved on from Athens, up into northern Europe, talking his joy and the gospel with him.

Through stories like this we realize the power of the gospel to overcome all manner of suffering and hardship. In fact, the gospel’s movement around the world is often deeply rooted in the suffering of God’s people. This is what Paul means when he says, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor 4:7).

May you and I learn to exhibit the joy of the Lord in the midst of our own difficulties — it is the least we can do for all that Christ has done for us. Truly the joy of the Lord is our strength — even in these jars of clay.