Monday, July 7, 2014

The Potter and the Clay

It happened again the other day. I was having a conversation with an intelligent well educated young man who was struggling in his faith. Though he used lofty terms and fancy philosophical talk to express himself, what it boiled down to was that he did not like the way God was running the world. He did not understand why God allowed certain  things to happen in his own life. God's purposes in many things did not make sense to him. Therefore, he concluded, God must not be real.

I have these conversation often with young adults. They are not debates. Normally the people I have these conversations with are not angry (or least not at me!). But they are struggling to come to terms with what they see in the world around them and with what they are experiencing in their own lives. Though I wish I had some easy answers to give them that would make everything crystal clear in their minds and help them resolve all their inner conflicts, I rarely find easy answers to such complex questions.

To be honest, I am not sure there are answers for some questions, at least not answers that our finite minds can totally grasp. I think some things are just mysteries and we have to accept them as part of life. Some mysteries are wonderful, such as when we fall in love. Other mysteries are not so wonderful, such as when someone we love hurts us deeply. Both are mysteries. Most people will experience both in life.

For people of faith, such as myself, we accept that God's wisdom is deeper than our own. Though our understanding of some things is limited by our finite minds, God's mind is infinite and sees things from not just a bigger perspective, but from an entirely different perspective. One of the mysteries that people of faith have learned to accept is that God knows what He is doing, even when it makes no sense whatsoever to us.

Those without faith struggle to accept the reality that an all-knowing God is working things out in a way that is right and just. They observe things that do not make sense to their limited understanding of the universe and wrongly conclude that God has made a mistake, or does not exist at all. Some rage against God in their frustration at not being able to understand all that He is doing. The words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind. "Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, Who sees us? Who knows us? 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 (Isaiah 29:15-16)?

Though there will be times we do not understand what God is doing in the world around us, or in our own lives, we must remember that He is the potter and we are the clay. He molds us and shapes us in ways that set a course for us to discover His purpose for our lives. Just as a piece of clay lacks the ability to understand why a potter is kneading it, so we often lack understanding of why God does certain things. But in the end, a good potter makes something worthwhile out of a lump of clay. Likewise, a good God will make something worthwhile out of our lives, indeed, out of our entire messed up world, as He continues kneading us into what we should be. Instead of raging against God, let us humbly thank Him today for molding and shaping us into something of great value.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


  1. Thanks, Terry! I so appreciate your final statement - "Instead of raging against God, let us be thankful." God bless.

    1. Thanks Michael. Raging against God never ends well. Thankfulness goes a long way!