The Great Pottery Throwdown
This past week, the first deaths related to Covid-19 were recorded for Montgomery County. Hospitals across several US cities are working overtime to care for their patients. Medical workers are being recognized as heroes for their sacrificial service. And while recovery numbers increase, the spread of the Coronavirus continues across America. Return to “normal life” still seems so distant.
In a difficult time like this, some might ask, “What in the world is God doing?” What is God doing in our world right now? Why is He doing all of this? Is God even behind it all?
The Bible really does have answers that are true and relevant for any season—even flu season!
One of the first and most remarkable answers to this weighty question is that God is exercising complete control of all things.
So, what in the world is God doing with the world-wide spread of the coronavirus? He is demonstrating that He is in control of all things. He is working all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is in the heavens and He does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). He forms light and creates darkness; He makes well-being and creates calamity; He is the Lord, who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7).
My wife and daughter occasionally get me hooked into some show about baking wars, fashion design, or Minecraft building. Recently, I watched a pottery competition series. Fascinating!
Potters use what is called a “pottery wheel” to work their clay. In most episodes, the competitors make pitchers, vases, cups, plates, bowls, and various pieces that turn out quite attractive. They typically start by throwing the lump of clay down on the wheel, spinning it, and carefully working it with their hands or tools. They also add features like handles and spouts and other creative details. Finally, they send it off to the kiln to cure. When they are done, the potters present their finished works to the judges.
Now, several things can go wrong in this process. The clay could not be centered on the wheel, it could be too thin, it could collapse, it could be too wet, it could be too dry, pots could crack in the kiln, they could stick to the shelf and chip, they could get smudged, etc. The master potter knows just how to bring his plans to completion showing off his creativity and control over the clay.
In a very similar way, God is the Master Potter and we are the clay! Many times, when we think about our life, we want to be the potter and we want our life to be the clay. We prefer to be in control, especially when a microscale virus causes macroscale changes to lives across the earth! But God’s Word teaches us that He is best-suited to be in control of our lives; not us.
Job, in his deep loss and misery, says to God in Job 10:9, “Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?” Elihu tries to relate to his suffering friend Job in Job 33:6, “I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.”
Pain, suffering, and loss can help us remember and admit that we are the clay and God is the potter. Like clay, we can be stiff, sticky, and formed from the ground, but we are in His strong hands. He is shaping us into something. We are on his wheel. And we are most moldable when wet. Moist eyes can make soft hearts if you turn to the Lord. Could this pandemic be a call to worship like your heart has never known? Can you bless the Lord for both giving and taking away? Is it time to view yourself for who you truly are, a lump of clay formed from the ground?
To the one who fights against the Lord in life, Isaiah 29:16 says, “You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” And Isaiah 45:9 continues, “Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”
Wrestling with God and fighting against Him are two different things. Wrestling keeps things right side up; fighting turns them upside down. Wrestling keeps God as potter and us as clay; fighting treats God as clay and us as potter. Perhaps we have fought against God by complaining online? Maybe we have put our hope in getting back to normal? Or possibly we have hardened our hearts against the Lord and turned to the world rather than the Word in our brokenness?
The soft and surrendered heart says to God, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
This malleable metaphor of potter and clay teaches us that God has ultimate control over all things—our fallen world, its many diseases, all moral evil, and our very lives. Can you joyfully declare that there is one Sovereign in your life—God? Are you content to be a work of His hands? Have you surrendered your life to the One who willingly laid down His life for you on the cross of Calvary?
What in the world is God doing? He is exercising complete control over all things! God ordained the coronavirus. He influences our economy. He leads His homebound church. He is all-powerful and all-good forever. You can trust Him.
If you harden your heart against God, then your life will whirl wildly out of control. However, if your heart has been softened by the love of your Savior who was crushed for your iniquities, then your life will be wonderfully molded and conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.