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Jars of clay

Jars of clay
Posted on November 13, 2020  - By Premilla Jacob

The pages of the Bible are filled with stories of God using the little courage and faith of His children to accomplish great ends. One of my favourites is a little ‘heroine of faith’ we see in 2 Kings 5:1-3. She was a young Israelite girl who was captured by the bands of Aram and brought to Syria. She became the servant of the wife of Naaman, the great commander of the Syrian army. Naaman was a well-respected man, but he suffered from leprosy. 

We have very few details of the girl. We don’t know her name or what she looked like or her exact age. In fact, only two verses in the Bible mention her. But the simple words that she spoke triggered a string of events that were recorded to inspire generations to come. “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy!” (2 Kings 5:3). 

Little girl, big faith

To understand the magnitude of these words, we need to know the background of the girl. She grew up in a time when most of Israel, including the king himself, followed pagan gods. But there was a small remnant of people who believed and served the living God. This girl grew up in one such devout family that revered God and respected the prophet, Elisha. She had been taught about the faithfulness of God and His many promises of providence. 

But one fine day, her whole world was turned upside down. Enemies came in, raided her village and burnt down everything. Her parents were probably killed, and she was taken captive to a foreign country. She was all alone in a Gentile land with nothing to call her own and no one to direct her. And yet, there is so much we can learn from her life.

  • She worshipped her God: How did she have the courage to go on? I am sure that, behind closed doors, this little girl would have laid her broken heart, her fears and her hopelessness at the feet of her God. She quieted and stilled her soul with the peace that only He could give through the Word that she had been taught. 

“I do not concern myself with great matters, or things too wonderful for me, but I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore” (Psalm 131:1-3). Her circumstances drew her nearer to God — not away from him — and she trusted Him.

  • She worked for the glory of God: This girl had to work as a servant for the very people who had destroyed everything in her life. To make matters worse, they were idol-worshipping Gentiles, whom the Jews were not supposed to associate with. She had every reason to be bitter towards them. But instead, something beautiful happens. 

The little girl in 1 Kings had to work as a servant for the very people who had destroyed everything in her life

As she worshipped her God, God took all her I-don’t-know-hows and I-can’t-do-this and filled her heart with His love ― the sacrificial love that can forgive the worst in others and help us give our all to serve them selflessly. And it was obvious in all that she did. 

  • She was a witness for God: For all the fame and glory that Naaman had, there was one thing that plagued him. He had leprosy, an incurable disease and one that repulsed all around. The little girl saw the sadness and frustration in the eyes of her master and mistress. Her heart was moved with compassion and she offered hope in their dark world. There was a way it could be healed, she said! 

Her mistress passed the information on to Naaman, who went to the Syrian king and told him what his servant girl had said. Can you imagine the commander asking the king if he could go to the enemy country and ask for a cure, all because of what a mere servant girl said? If Naaman had to trust her word and put so much at risk, it was surely because her life bore such a testimony about God. 

And God honoured her word. Naaman was healed not only on the outside, but also on the inside. “Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, ‘Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel’” (2 Kings 5:15). God used a little servant girl to teach a big commander about a great God.

God used a little servant girl to teach a big commander about a great God

Vessels of honour

This girl had only a glimpse of our God and yet she glorified Him with the little that she knew. How much more has been revealed to us, New Testament believers. Look at our Lord Jesus, the King of Kings, who gave up all His glory in heaven to take the form of a servant, be treated like a criminal, and nailed to the cross for our sakes. All of it so that you and I would have no condemnation, but instead be made the sons and daughters of God forever. How great is His love to us, unworthy though we are! 

The wonder of it all is that, He places this knowledge, this amazing treasure of the gospel of the glory of Christ, in our hands and in our hearts to show the whole world. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to ourselves.” 

Clay jars are so commonplace — used for everyday tasks. There is nothing special about these weak and fragile vessels. Only what has been put inside them gives them value. God uses ordinary people like you and me in our everyday lives to share His light to our world. When we give ourselves into the hands of our Potter, He moulds us as He pleases to become a vessel of honour.

When we give ourselves into the hands of our Potter, He moulds us as He pleases to become a vessel of honour

Striving for the ‘Well done’

I often feel overwhelmed by my calling to be a godly mother, as I keep failing at it over and over again. But as the verse reminds us, “the surpassing power comes from God and not from us”. I must look to the cross every day, and lay my fears, worries, secret sins and ‘self’ there. 

And then, as I gaze upon the glory of my risen Saviour, He gives me His beauty — which I could never have on my own ― to love unconditionally, serve selflessly, and forgive like He forgave me. That is what it looks like to have His power made perfect in our weakness.

Just like that servant girl, each of us are called to glorify God exactly where we are placed, however impossible it might feel. We are to live transformed lives that reflect the worth of the gospel treasure that we have been given. As we change and become more like Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will change the people around us to want Christ. 

May the Lord help us stay true to our calling, especially in an age when the world is searching for a reason to hope. What a joy it would be, when He calls us home, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, come and share your Master’s happiness!”

Premilla Jacob

About Premilla Jacob

Based in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Premilla Jacob is a happy homemaker who seeks to find God’s glory in her daily life. When her three boys aren’t keeping her busy with diapers and homework, she takes the opportunity to encourage others in her community and share Christ through her writings.



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