Today I read in II Corinthians 4:7-8, 10 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair….We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.”
What an incredible privilege we have, to display the life of Christ in and thru our very lives! And this privilege is not always easy. God often first displays his death in our lives, through suffering and hardship, which He then uses as the dramatic backdrop from which to “shine forth” His awesome resurrection power!
I experienced this in a dramatic way on Sunday. My friend and I were driving back from Galveston on Sunday night down an extremely dark stretch of I-45. We were cruising in the fast lane. Suddenly a black car emerged out of the darkness; it was parked in the fast (far-left) lane! I slammed on the breaks! We stopped mere inches from the car, only to have a third car slam into the back of us seconds later! In the next moments, our lives would literally hang helplessly in the balance, as heavy traffic, including an 18-wheeler, continued to swerve and whiz by us at 65+ mph! We were 3 black cars, sitting like a row of ducks in the two fastest lanes, and nearly impossible to see in the dark! A brave man stopped to help us, despite there being NO shoulders on which to safely pull over (city law suit?)! Suddenly a car swerved to miss us, crashing into his truck! The man dove out of the way, barely escaping with his life! We frantically climbed out of the car, and then pulled bleeding, crying children out of the smoking car behind us. We huddled together, pressing tightly against the concrete median. Somehow, by the power of God, and the help of “Good Samaritans,” this dark, dangerous highway, humming with heavy traffic, halted to a standstill, allowing 7 badly shaken people to cross safely to the other side.
I NEVER would have chosen this for myself, or for those involved, but, having made it to the other side, I can clearly see that God used this traumatic experience to reveal Jesus in a powerful way! As emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they expressed amazement that we had all made it safely with no major injuries to speak of. Just a hundred yards up the interstate lay a motorcycle from a wreck that had happened not even an hour before. We later learned that it had ended in a fatality. I’ll never know ALL the reasons why ours didn’t end that way. But I CAN tell you that we were greeted on the other side of the interstate by two Nigerians who told us they were Christians and that they were “pleading the blood of Jesus” over us the entire time, even before the wreck! It was their car parked in the fast lane. They had a blow-out just moments before, and couldn’t get over, so they were left to abandon their car. It was an impossible situation, but God had done the impossible! He had answered their fervent side-line prayers, and 9 people had walked away from an absolute death trap!
There, under the dark shadow of death, the life of Christ shown forth brightly, in a myriad of unexpected ways. With a 3 car pile-up tempers easily could have flared over whose fault it was, but instead, powerful moments ensued, as two Nigerians embraced hands with two Americans, in a blur of flashing lights, to give thanks to God for protection! Then the courageous first-responder, who had nearly been hit by the car, said enthusiastically that he too was a Christian, as he joined us in expressing deep gratitude to God for sparing his own life! Then we were able to wrap our arms around a very frightened Hispanic family who spoke very little English. My friend held their little boy in her arms to comfort him, and I wrapped my arms around a sobbing mother and her trembling teenage son until the ambulance arrived.
I truly believe God was both merciful and powerful in sparing our lives! And during the course of the night, several emergency workers approached me and said, “I hear you are a pastor.” I was able to speak, to testify, concerning the goodness of God in that harrowing situation. Even on the way home, our tow truck driver opened up to us that his brother was in ICU with health problems, and we were able to pray with him for his brother, encourage him, and express our gratitude for his help.
When death casts its lingering shadow upon us, God loves to display his power over death; his resurrection life in us! What hardships, trials, or sufferings has God entrusted you with? Do you believe God is able to turn these shadows of the cross into beautiful displays of HIS LIFE in you?
Have faith! Trust in the goodness of God, even in the hard things, and let the world see JESUS REVEALED IN YOU.