The Upper Room devotional reflection for Wednesday, September 16th comes to us from Regina K. Carson of Virginia.
2 Corinthians 4:7-18 NRSV 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—”I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
I love to walk on the beach looking for seashells. When I was younger, I dreamed of discovering a perfect conch or whelk. In all my days of beachcombing, however, I’ve seen mostly chipped scallops, common cockles, barnacle-infested oysters, and pieces of once-whole whelks. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate the small, smooth pieces that roll in with the waves. The purple and cream ones are my favorite, but there are also lovely pinks, browns, blacks, and even iridescent golds. Worn by tides and time, they are not the vessels they once were. Instead, they have become beautiful in a new way.
Like those shells I am not now what I once was. Aging, illness, and extensive dental surgery have changed my physical appearance. Yet, because of God’s abiding love and guidance, I still have value and beauty. My earthen vessel may not be as young as it once was, but I take comfort in knowing that I am an ever-evolving creation. As today’s reading reminds us, “we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor. 4:7, CEB). No matter our physical changes, our actions can speak of God’s power and renewing presence in our lives.
Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for abiding with us through life’s gales. Help us to become new creations in you so that others can see the power of your love. Amen.
– Regina K. Carson
Regina’s reflection reminds us that God views us as valuable and seeks to bless others through us. No matter how young or old we might be, God still has a purpose for us to fulfil. I urge you to lean into the encouraging embrace of God as God reveals how you can be an agent of hope and healing.