Monday Devotional: May 27, 2024



Bible Reading: Romans 8:14-17 (CEB)

5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’s sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 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 around in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For we who are living are always being handed over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us but life in you.

As a former English teacher, I occasionally diagram Paul’s sentences just to see how he does it. Nobody but Paul subordinates clauses within clauses like that and consistently hooks readers for millennia. Today’s reading is one of those passages that I’d send back with lots of red ink. He starts off beautifully, but by verse 10, he’s deep in his mystic mind, juggling “life,” “death,” and “flesh” in layered rhetoric that perhaps only he can fathom.

So I will oversimplify. Being human means we suffer and suffering can lead us to experience the vulnerability that invites God’s presence in a new way. That is not to say God sends suffering, just that God’s presence in our suffering is raw and strong and real, and it changes us.

We may not relate personally to Paul’s description of religious persecution, but our clay-jar bodies will certainly know the “afflictions and perplexities” of aging. Memory frays, bones become brittle, arteries harden, and every little thing is more difficult. Our independence is as precarious as our balance. We begin to feel irrelevant and unseen. And we mourn what we’ve lost.

What treasures could possibly open up through these vulnerabilities? How does Christ’s light shine even and especially through trials of aging like dementia, fading sight and hearing, and the looming threat of the next heart attack?

I recall a family friend who was once full of vitality. Elderly and incapacitated, he spent months in a recliner while his wife and family tended to him. He commented; “All I can do right now is sit here and suffer love.”

To “suffer love” was the treasure of his aging body, offering a different kind of strength for those who love him. That, I believe, is the “life of Jesus made visible in our mortal flesh.”


Recall loved ones who allowed the aging process to create a life-giving vulnerability to God’s presence. Is there a word or image that helps you name this quality you’ve witnessed? Hold it with you today.

By Laura Huff Hileman, The Upper Room Disciplines 2024, page 187.