“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. 11 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. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak,14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:7-18)
This passage opens with the Apostle Paul talking about treasure in jars of clay. The paradox is that clay jars are fragile and easily broken. In spiritual terms Christ chooses to work through the fragile clay jars of humanity. This shows in no uncertain terms that power comes from God and not from humans. What amazing things might Christ accomplish through you in his power? To further the thought, For Paul, the majesty of salvation appears to be foolishness to those who do not believe. The paradox of the cross is that what looked like Jesus’ greatest defeat turned out to be his final victory!
To illustrate this point, Paul recounts some of his own struggles: “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.” (2 Cor 4:8-9) All of these metaphors are hopeful in that they speak of struggle and suffering but none of them admit defeat. It can be easy to go to the negative, but I’m certain everyone reading this has struggled and overcome challenges, or you wouldn’t be here! Paul is so confident in Christ that he is willing to suffer personally in order that the gospel might advance. I wonder, what would it look like to have this much confidence in salvation?
Based on the assurance of salvation and the power of the cross Paul is confident and does not lose heart. Paul’s own body has been beat up by his ministry. He literally bears the scars, yet inwardly he is growing stronger every day in the Holy Spirit. If anyone had a reason to complain about his life it was the apostle Paul. He was beaten, shipwrecked, mocked and jailed for the sake of Jesus, yet he can call his sufferings light and momentary. I don’t know about you but I don’t know that I have the confidence at this point to call those kinds of suffering light and momentary. The reason that Paul can call these significant struggles light and momentary is that he has developed a deep confidence in Christ and has adopted an eternal perspective. “This eternal perspective and hope in things to come sustained Paul in the midst of the temporary sufferings that marked his ministry.” Following in Paul’s footsteps, in light of the majesty of salvation and the hope of eternal life, followers of Jesus CAN call the troubles they face light and momentary. The circumstances don’t change, but a person’s attitude does.
What Paul is talking about in this passage requires a hope for the future. If no one ever won the lottery, no one would ever play, but there is hope because it is possible to win although extremely unlikely. Hope in the future for a follower of Christ is not improbable like winning the lottery, it is guaranteed. If people truly grasp eternal life, I am certain they would be willing to give up anything to follow Jesus. This is why Paul says “18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18) What is unseen at this point is the glory of eternity and of a relationship with Jesus, yet these things are known now and will be seen in the future. Real hope allows people to dream for better days even as we walk through hard times. The reality is that believers in Jesus have both a present hope and a future hope. The present hope is the Holy Spirit working inside of believers right now and the future hope is in the promise of resurrection with Jesus and eternal life. Hope sustains faith. If I’ve learned anything from the Bible it’s this simple statement: Jesus wins! Put your hope in Jesus this week and you will not be disappointed.
 Lowery, D. K. (1985). 2 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 565). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Kruse, C. G. (1987). 2 Corinthians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 8, p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.