The sufferings of this world makes us realise that this life is often more a process of dying than an exercise in living. Our bodies are not immortal, and sickness, pain, and weakness confirms that fact for us each day. Though we have great joy in the joy-filled and successful ‘living’ moments of this life, we, being Christians, also have a great perspective on what can well be called the ‘dying’ moments of life.
Consider how the Apostle Paul described the great sufferings of his earthly life.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (ESV)
When your life is more accurately described by ‘dying’ than ‘living’, remember this: Your dying displays Christ’s life. Your clay pot displays the treasure of God’s power.
When afflicted, you know that you will not be crushed, for Christ Himself was afflicted, but still fulfilled His life with an affirmation that “It is finished” (Joh 19:30).
When perplexed by suffering, you know that you will not despair, but will always have a testimony to the world to the praise of God’s glory (Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
When persecution by evildoers, you know that you will not be forsaken, for even Christ, though forsaken by God on the cross in judgment, was reunited with the Father when He prayed “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luk 23:46).
When struck down by trials, you know that you will not be destroyed, but will make it to the escape as Christ Himself made it to the resurrection (1 Cor 10:13; 1 Cor 15:20).
Our mortal bodies will show signs of the same earthly life that Jesus lived. That means therefore that our dying lives will speak volumes of Jesus’ life, testifying to all that our God’s purposes for our lives are as complete and perfect and glorious as His purpose for Christ’s life was, and that our dying is merely evidence that though suffering abounds for now, the praises of Jesus will be affirmed by all for all eternity.
May we all—as John Wesley’s doctor said observing the deaths of various Christians—may we all “die well”. Even if suffering makes most of our lives feel like the process of dying, may we do it well.
Christ is the treasure; we are just the display pot.