A Higher Source of Comfort
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?(Lamentations 3:38)
Lamentations 3:37-38 is a Scripture passage that offends many people. They find it difficult to accept that both calamities and good things come from God. People often ask the question, “If God is a God of love, how could He allow such a calamity?” But Jesus Himself affirmed God’s sovereignty in calamity when Pilate said to Him, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you? “ Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”(John 19:10-11) Jesus acknowledged Gods sovereign control over His life.
Because God’s sacrifice of His Son for our sins is such an amazing act of love toward us, we tend to overlook that it was for a Jesus an excruciating experience beyond all we can imagine. It was for Jesus in His humanity a calamity sufficient to cause Him to pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But He did not waver in His assertion of God’s sovereign control as He prayed, “not as I will but as you will. “(Matthew 26:39)
Rather than being offended over the Bible’s assertion of Gods sovereignty in both good and calamity, believers should be comforted by it. Whatever our particular calamity or adversity may be, we may be sure that our Father has a loving purpose in it. As King Hezekiah said, “Behold it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness.”(Isaiah 38:27) God does not exercise His sovereignty capriciously but only in such a way as His infinite love deems best for us. Jeremiah wrote, “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)
Jeremiah in chapter 18 tells of going down to the potters house to watch the potter make vessels. He observes the potter placing a lump of clay on the wheel and beginning to spin the wheel to shape the vessel. Jeremiah notes that in that particular vessel a flaw was discovered. So the potter breaks it down back into the lump and begins again remaking a vessel. Jeremiah tells us that the flaw was found while the vessel was on the wheel and in the hands of the potter. This story illustrates the working of God with us. When we come to God we are nothing more than a lump of clay. I know this thought bothers us because we feel and are told that we are something special, but the truth is until God puts us on His wheel and begins to shape us into His vessel we are nothing more than clay. Everything in this life will vanish one day. All the buildings we build, machinery we invent, every item that has been invented, created and manufactured will disappear. Archeology supports this with their finds. Great civilizations of the past have only left bits of their creations and most of that is stone or some other substance not easily decayed. Their cities are gone, most of their buildings are gone and much of their knowledge has gone into obscurity. Just clay that returns back to the earth. In this picture we find the potter represents God who picks up a lump of clay from the pile. Nothing special about it, just ordinary clay. What will shape it into a useable vessel is determined by the potter. The clay has no say in the matter. Paul in using these vessels as illustration, tells us that some vessels are made as beautiful, incredible works of are to be seen and to serve in highly honored places. Others are more plain and serve frequently as common vessels of use. It is God who decides where we fit and what is our use in His kingdom. As Jeremiah observes, a flaw becomes apparent. It apparently was already in the clay but wasn’t seen until the shaping of the vessel by the potter began. In the same way as God shapes our souls, adversity and struggle doesn’t create flaws; they reveal them. So God in His grace allows calamity and adversity to bring the debris to the surface so it can removed. Many think that once a flaw surfaces, the clay can’t be used. It’s ready for the discard pile. But God, the potter breaks down the vessel, digs out the imperfection, wets the clay with the water of the Holy Spirit, puts it back on the wheel and begins to shape it all over again. Jeremiah uses these powerful words, “He made it again another”. That may not make sense so I’ll try to explain. The first vessel made from the clay was flawed so it was crushed back into the shapeless lump of clay. So that vessel no longer existed. The lump of clay was them put back on the potters wheel, water applied to make it pliable, the wheel begins to spin and another vessel begins to be shaped from the same clay. What an amazing a God who loves us so. You may be like many who feel like that life is spinning out of control. You may feel like you’re losing your grip on sanity. All around you may be troubles and trials and it may feel like Satan is going to destroy you. Look under the table and see your Heavenly Father’s foot on the wheel. He knows how much spin you need and how much you can stand so every so often He stops the wheel, dips His hands into the water of the Holy Spirit and saturates you till your cup overflows and makes you ready for the next spin. Paul in his request to have the thorn removed is told, “My grace is sufficient”. Unlike Satan who works to destroy, when a God allows calamity or adversity, He does so to build us up into useable vessels. So if life feels hard right now, rest in the hands of the Potter. He will complete what He has begun.
Dr. John Thompson