Treasures in Jars of Clay

 
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We live in a world saturated with pain, sorrow, loss and difficulties.

Even the Western world, for all its material prosperity, is not exempt.

People everywhere are searching for something to give them peace and relief. Unfortunately, many of the things people think will bring them happiness only offer a temporary or partial release from the pain, hurt and grief that often fills their aching hearts. Is there really any hope amid the chaotic frenzy of our lives? Problems have been part of the human experience for thousands of years, and a great deal of the world’s literature focuses on the difficulties that all people experience in daily living. It is no coincidence that much of the Bible is made up of stories that are just as relevant to our lives today as when they took place thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, the rich sources of insight and wisdom into God’s solutions for the human condition, as recorded in the Bible, are often neglected today. Let us take a look at some of these stories. Perhaps there will be something to help you with a problem you are experiencing.

There was a woman in the Old Testament who was suffering from poverty.

Her husband had died, leaving her with a large debt. The only things left in her possession were one jar of oil and her two sons—the latter about to be taken as slaves to pay the debt. In her desperation she called on God’s prophet, Elisha, who instructed her to go to her neighbours and borrow as many pots and jars as they would lend her. Through Elisha, God was about to work a miracle for the poor widow.

The woman was told to pour the oil into all the jars she had borrowed. As she poured from her one small jar, the oil kept flowing, filling all the containers she had to overflowing! She was then able to sell the oil and pay the debt. (Read the story in 2 Kings 4:1-7.) Just like those unfilled oil jars, our lives often seem empty. While material prosperity is fast advancing in our nation, many lives are in ruin. Current divorce and suicide statistics show unhappiness is widespread. People feign happiness but often laughter is only a mask for the pain and emptiness inside.

To compensate for this emptiness, people try to fill their “jars” with all kinds of different things. Sometimes it is drugs, alcohol, television, friends, parties, work, money—and the list goes on. Unfortunately, these things are transient. They fill the longing for a time but the happiness and fulfilment soon evaporate.

Nevertheless, there is something, or rather Someone, who can fill those empty vessels! That someone is Jesus! Speaking of the experience of a heart filled with the glory and knowledge of Jesus Christ the apostle Paul described it this way: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The solution to our difficulties is not to struggle alone with them but to allow Jesus to take control of our lives. Not all difficulties will be removed but we will have divine strength to deal with them.

The theme of God wanting to fill our lives with peace and comfort is repeated often in the Bible. Once, Jesus was travelling from the land of Judea, through Samaria, and on to Galilee. In Samaria, He stopped to rest by Jacob’s well. While He sat there, a woman from that country came to fill her water jugs at the well. Jesus, thirsty from walking the long dusty roads, asked the woman for a drink.

Jesus was known for sharing His message of hope and love in object lessons, and on this occasion decided to share with this woman an object lesson she would never forget: “Everyone who drinks this water,” He said, “will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13, 14).

The things this world offers will quench our thirst for just a moment, but Jesus, the Water of Life, will fill our lives to overflowing and will satisfy our every need! As David, the psalmist, declares: “You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16).

Through the power Christ gives, He will enable us to cope with the stresses of life, He will comfort us in times of sorrow and bereavement and, most importantly, will give us a hope that will strengthen us and give us the will to press on! King Solomon knew what it was like to live apart from God. In the early part of his reign, He acknowledged God as the Creator and source of all strength and wisdom. One night, in a dream, God spoke to Solomon and asked Him what he would like to be given. Instead of requesting riches, fame, long life, or other temporal things, Solomon asked for wisdom and a discerning heart to be able to judge and guide his people. God was pleased with Solomon’s virtuous request, and He granted Solomon great wisdom.

For that part of his life, Solomon was respected by the nation for his mercy and justice. He walked in the ways of God and was abundantly blessed because of his uprightness. But, gradually, pride and self-sufficiency, along with the influence of idolatrous and pagan wives, became Solomon’s downfall.

Eventually he turned his back on God and began to fill his life with all kinds of other things. He was someone to be envied; he had it all! He did not want for women, musicians, gold, silver and precious stones, lands and ships. He was also famous! Yet, he was not happy.

In seeking worldly treasure, Solomon had forgotten to seek out the source of true happiness. Instead of being honoured by his realm for his kind and benevolent acts, he became a dictator and a tyrant; he taxed the people higher in order to supply money for his projects.

Worst of all, God’s favour was no longer upon him.

After squandering so much precious time in seeking worldly fame, Solomon realised his mistake and turned back to God, forsaking the path he had been treading. After fulfilling all his ambitious goals, Solomon declared that it was all vanity (see Ecclesiastics 1:1, 2).

How can this knowledge help you? Christ came so you “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He created you for a special purpose and it is His intent to fill your cup to overflowing that you may experience life in the fullest sense! He is offering peace, rest and contentment to all who will reach up with a hand of faith and take hold of this free gift.

Though you are but a small, insignificant speck of dust in comparison to the size of the universe, God cares about you! He who sees a sparrow fall is sure to be interested in your personal welfare and affairs.

Life may seem as empty as those oil jars, but God wants to work a miracle for you! He wants to fill our lives to overflowing with more blessings than we could ever count! He is our only lasting hope amid the pressing difficulties of life!