ArticleMissionary Life

Glory in Jars of Clay

The difficult realities of the mission field remind us that we are fragile vessels.
There are days in a mission hospital that remind us of the fragility of our mortal selves, the delicacy of our bodies.

Approaching the hospital, the missionaries must walk past the small shed used as a morgue. Some mornings, a stretcher sits in the grass near the small building, sunning after being washed down. It’s challenging to avoid the heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach—somebody died last night.

We recently had a patient, a young woman, who was being treated in our hospital for an infection deep in her abdomen. She improved significantly and was transferred out of the intensive care ward to a general bed. However, she ended up taking a turn for the worst without any clear explanation and died within a few days. We are perplexed by such hard realities often.

We know from Scripture that we continue to carry the curse of sin in our mortal bodies. This curse includes the many trials of life that God uses to refine us into the image of his son, Jesus Christ, and to exemplify the glory of God. During our ever-so-brief time on this earth, we are exposed to all kinds of afflictions, perplexities, persecutions, and ultimately even the death of our bodies. Yet, while our flesh is exposed to such things that should crush us, drive us to despair, cause us to feel forsaken, and even utterly destroy us, the Father of Light shows Himself to us and the world by preserving us and allowing us to be joyful even in the worst circumstances.

The Lord of hosts extends his power to his children so that the life which is Christ is made known, even in this cursed world through our frail, dying bodies. How encouraged is the body of Christ when the Lord makes himself known in such a way? How perplexed and intrigued is the world who witnesses the oxymoron of joy within sorrow, of life within death!

Pray, pray, children of the Most High. Ask the Lord to keep our eyes fixed on him, our minds bent towards Him, and our hearts always seeking the only way to the Father, Jesus. Let us encourage each other to maintain a perspective which is eternal. This life is so momentary. Take every hurt and affliction to a loving Father. Yes, we are free and able to ask for what we want and what we need, but let us desire also to cherish the opportunities to display the Way, Truth, and Life in the weakness of our bodies. What a privilege to be used of God. May he be seen, known, and gloried.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 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 begin given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-11)

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)

“[B]ut as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Seth’s personal blog September 2, 2021. Used with permission.

About the Author

Dr. Seth Mallay serves in West African healthcare ministry with his wife Rebecca and their children. He hopes to see an increase in mobile clinic ministry to unreached people groups as a means for church planting. Support the Mallays’ ministry.

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