“like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand”. Jeremiah 18:6
I’ve recently been reading the book of Job again. What a powerful book it is! Job had it all, success, big family, business, riches, and in a short period of time lost everything, even his good health.
Job’s friends – well, they’re another blog post on their own! Suffice to say that if I ever have to go through the sort of times that Job did, I want to be surrounded by friends who encourage me to lift my eyes toward God – not in accusation as Job’s friends unhelpfully suggested – but in worship, and in acknowledgement that He is the only one from whom my help comes.
I once dropped and broke a plate that belonged to a set. Usually that sort of thing doesn’t bother me, but this plate was part of a set that had belonged to my Mum, who had passed away just a few years before that. The plate wasn’t just broken, it was shattered into tiny pieces; impossible to glue back together.
Sometimes life can feel like that. Mine felt like that 16 years ago when I was going through an acrimonious divorce. I thought at the time that I’d never be “whole” again. I wonder did Job feel like that?
Circumstances can seem broken beyond compare, shattered – divorce, broken family relationships, the death of a loved one, a damaged friendship, chronic sickness – we may feel, “how can I ever come back from this?”
We live in a broken world and as Christians we aren’t exempt from hard times. (See James 1:2-5)
In these times, we look at the seemingly shattered pieces of our lives and the tiny shards challenge us, like Job’s friend’s to believe that the promises of God still apply to us. They mock and jeer, sneeringly telling us that we fall just that little bit short of God’s saving reach, and that all hope is gone.
But if you belong to Jesus, the Master Potter, those shattered pieces do not tell the truth!
Hope is anything but gone! Our God is the God of new beginnings.
I love this story in Jeremiah, where God uses an object lesson to show Jeremiah how He, the Master Potter can reshape and design something incredible from a ruined lump of clay. Jeremiah 18:2–6
“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel”.
We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand. — Isaiah 64:8
If you are in a place today where your life seems “shattered”, remember that the One who carefully, lovingly shaped and formed you isn’t shocked or surprised by the broken things that occur, either in this world, or in our lives.
None of these things change His plans and purposes!
His plan for you and I is not to wrap us in cotton wool and pack us away, to keep us from getting shattered. We are told in the Word of God that we can expect trials and tribulations.
God’s purpose is to keep our hearts connected to Him, our eyes fixed on Him.
Like the Psalmist says: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1–2
The One who made all of heaven and earth is more than able to re-shape your life. And even more than that, The Master Potter who can reshape the vessel that seemed ruined, can restore the life that seems shattered beyond repair.
I started this blog post in Job and its there that I’ll finish, by saying this: Despite all he went through, Job remained steadfast in his trust in God’s goodness, faithfulness and will.
At the end of the book of Job we see how God restored Job’s shattered life: “the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren.” Job 42:10, 12, -13,16
When life isn’t ‘working’, it’s instinctive to try to fix it. The answer lies instead in laying it all down, and looking to the only one who can restore and renew our lives.