What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ – Isaiah 45:9
How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid?” – Isaiah 29:16
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
The following illustration is slightly modified and extracted from “The Hammer, the File, and the Furnace” by Rutherford.
It was the enraptured Rutherford who said in the midst of very painful trials and heartaches: “Praise God ‘for the hammer, the file, and the furnace!’”
Let’s think about that. The hammer is a useful and handy instrument. It is an essential and helpful tool, if nails are ever to be driven into place. Each blow forces their bite deeper as the hammer’s head pounds and pounds.
But if the nail had feelings and intelligence, it would give us another side of the story. To the nail, the hammer is a brutal, relentless master – an enemy who loves to beat it into submission. That is the nail’s view of the hammer. It is correct except for one thing. The nail tends to forget that both it and the hammer are held by the same workman. The workman decides whose “head” will be pounded next and which hammer will be used to do the job.
This decision is the sovereign right of the carpenter. Let the nail but remember that it and the hammer are held by the same workman and its resentment will fade as it yields to the carpenter without complaint.
Heartaches and disappointments are like the hammer. They come in all shapes and sizes: unmet expectations, lingering illness, unexpected death, unfulfilled life goals, severed friendship, a wayward and rebellious child, a habit you can’t seem to break, a broken home or marriage. Sometimes heartaches come suddenly, other times slowly. But indeed they do come.
Without doubt, if nails had feelings, they would not “like” to be smacked on their heads with a hammer. But does it make any sense for nail to resent the blows of the hammer? The Father has the right to decide whose head is going to be hammered next, how hard, and for how long. And for all practical purposes, although we are but nails, and we are His nails.
As difficult as it may be to believe at times, the Master knows what He’s doing. The Father knows our breaking point. The hammer blows are designed to reshape us, not ruin us. Our value to Him increases the longer He lingers over us (Rutherford).
REFLECT & PRAY
Common clay is simply part of the dry ground that the Father separated from the waters in the beginning.
Father, it is so human and natural to struggle with this. Encourage and help me to remember from what I have been fashioned, what I am being fashioned into, and what one day I will finally become.
Do we forget who is the clay and Who is the potter? Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ (Isaiah 45:9).
Do we really think that the Father is deficient in intelligence or wisdom? Do we think His planning is inadequate, unfair, or defective? Does He lack the power and ability to get the job done?
Resolution here is not easy. It often comes through much inner turmoil and struggle. But it is simple. As much as we may desire that things might be different, we are simply not the potter. In the end, we merely acknowledge that The Potter, is indeed the potter. The final word is His and not ours.
For a moment, employing a bit of wishful thinking, we might imagine ourselves as the potter. If it were possible to become the potter, at that moment we can take things into our own hands. But until that time, it is better to remember that soft clay bends, but hard, brittle clay breaks.
One more thing, clay, by its very nature is inactive, passive, inert. Clay does not get into mud fights with other clay. It does not get rowdy and toss itself about. It does not start rockslides. It does not muddy clear, sparkling water for the sheer fun of it or out of spite. Clay basically just lays around.
It is only when it is taken into a potter’s hands, that it becomes something else. It is fashioned, molded, and shaped. It takes on new form. It is given new meaning, purpose, and value.
The potter is the one who shapes it and crafts it. He determines what kind of pot it will become. Some pots can be very beautiful and ornate. Others not so much. The New Living Translation is rather blunt and direct here. When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into (Romans 9:21)?
The story ends well when we find contentment in being exactly the kind of pot that the Father has made us to be. When we do and become what we were born to do.
With a bit of contemplation, common sense and wisdom, we are able to recognize that the Father is the Sovereign Lord working things out according to His design and purpose. The Father is the Lord God Almighty. We are but dust, the dust of the earth. However, we are His dust.
Praise the LORD! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns (Revelation 19:6).