The Work of His Hands

By on March 10, 2011

By Katherine Swarts

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’???” (Isaiah 45:9 NIV).

Friend to Friend

However it is expressed, none of us is immune to the delusion that we could do a better job of running the world than God does. Coincidentally, the “better way” we wish God had the sense to implement usually involves an increase in our own comfort or convenience. Even “why does God allow suffering” questions are frequently motivated by fear a tragedy will affect us, if only through an increased number of “please help” guilt trips interrupting our business-as-usual.    

In recent years, I have found a new twist on the “God, why won’t You make things easy for me?” complaint. Never having taken disappointment well, I finally matured enough to admit I have no right to dictate circumstances to the point of having every Web page download faster than the eye can see. But my brain seems to be programmed never to be satisfied without something to complain about. So “God, why won’t You keep interruptions out of my life?” has become “God, why won’t You instantly change my temperament so I’m never even tempted to get impatient, to feel crushed when plans are spoiled—or to look on the negative side?” 

 Like the idea God should prevent all earthquakes, poverty, and illness, it seems a reasonable, even noble, wish. But it carries a less-than-noble undercurrent: “God, I don’t want to suffer growing pains. I don’t want to make mistakes and deal with the consequences. I don’t want to put in any hard work of my own. I just want You to change me instantly so I can always be happy from now on.”

 It all comes back to the foolishness of arguing with our Maker. Science fiction has spun many a tale of computers developing free will and deciding they no longer want to take orders from their human creators—the result, hilarious or terrifying, invariably being total havoc. Likewise, human beings who decide their Creator doesn’t know what He’s doing with them invariably wind up wreaking havoc on their own emotional, spiritual, and material lives. No matter if the only point of argument is why He created us prone to certain sins.

 And we all do have natural weak points. One woman carries a genetic tendency toward alcoholism, another’s brain chemistry factory comes with a limited supply of positive-thinking ingredients, yet another has an inherent “get things done” drive that easily trumps patience and compassion. I am not being facetious here; both medical research and common sense (as in “how else could two people raised in near-identical circumstances turn out totally different?”) support my point. But neither am I making excuses for anyone—least of all myself—acting on her tendencies toward sin. Nor do I pretend to know why God creates us with vulnerable points in the first place. Even a theologian of Paul’s caliber could come up with no better explanation than “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden . . . . Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:18, 21). In other words, God knows better than we do, and that settles it.

 Our comfort lies in another statement of Paul’s, recorded in Philippians 1:6: “[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I get so tired sometimes of being the person I am. It feels that no matter how many times I fight the same battles, I get no closer to winning the war. Please help me remember that the war is really Yours, and that in Your infinite wisdom and mercy You know exactly which circumstances will help me become the person You meant me to be from the beginning. Thank You for loving me as I am—and for what You will ultimately make of me.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen. 

Now It’s Your Turn 

 Read Isaiah 29:16, Isaiah 45:9, and Romans 9:20. Then put them in context by reading the whole of Isaiah 29, Isaiah 45, and Romans 9. Find three reasons why it is foolish to complain about how God made you.

 How can even the pursuit of goodness and purity be twisted into evil? (Consider the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.)

 Every sin is a corruption of some good thing. Make a list of your weakest points—those character traits that most often lead you into sin. Then for each, list at least two ways they might be, through God’s strength in you, used for good instead.

 *All Scripture references are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.  

My name is Katherine . . . and I am a chronic perfectionist. If I had my way, life would always run according to plan and every goal would be achieved quickly and flawlessly—and predictably. And a major part of me still believes that’s all it would take to make me happy. Thank God that He knows better. 

Katherine’s new self-published book, Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts, was “written for naturally gloomy types like myself who are tired of shallow ‘cheer up’ talk and need the comfort of ‘God does love you’ encouragement.” The poems in the book come from Katherine’s blog at http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com; click http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/2007/12/molding.html and scroll down to read “Molding,” a poem particularly relevant to today’s devotion. 

Contact Katherine at [email protected] for information on ordering Where Light Dawns. 

About Katherine Swarts

Katherine Swarts is a poet and inspirational writer from Houston, Texas. Her self-published poetry book Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts (the first volume in a planned series) was “written for naturally gloomy types like myself who are tired of ‘cheer up’ talk and need the comfort of ‘God does love you’ encouragement.” The poems in the book come from Katherine’s blog at http://newsongsfromtheheart.blogspot.com; contact Katherine at [email protected] for ordering information.

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The Work of His Hands