Saturday, October 4, 2014

When We Don't Have Handles

Isa 45:9  "Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'? Isa 45:10  Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' or to a woman, 'With what are you in labor?'"

These verses and the whole context of Isaiah 40-48 are classical passages used by those who believe that God is utterly sovereign (I agree that is a redundancy but a necessary one when dealing with people who believe God is “sovereign” in everything but salvation or “sovereign” only when good things happen, etc.).  To support our position, even Paul uses them to prove his point in Romans 9 that God is sovereign in salvation as well as everything else.  These verses teach us a fundamental fact that God has every right to make us for whatever purpose he desires and that it is sinful for us to dare question his purposes in such a way that questions his wisdom.  It is one thing to question the Lord so that we might understand and appreciate him more; but it is quite another to stand as his judge.

At once we see both a statement of doctrine but also a huge “clue” as to how we are to understand ourselves and the world around us.  So there is no doubt that the above passage couldn’t be more important for us creatures to know and to understand and believe if we are to live God honoring lives. 

What these verses are telling us is that it is not enough for us to stand up during praise time at church and affirm that God is sovereign in all things.  They are also teaching us that we must be willing to submit to these truths when we find ourselves in adversity instead of just when watching someone else going through great trial.  We must be careful of putting all the emphasis on believing the doctrines of the sovereignty of God as if all God cares about is whether we believe truth but he cares little if we live out truth in our lives.

Plainly stated, can we be content when God makes us “without handles”?  When every pot around us has handles and we don’t, will our love for our Savior enables us to be content and useful in the kingdom of God?  I was recently reminded of this when some good friends visited us with their son who has Williams Syndrome.  They have been faithful parents for 40 plus years with a child who requires much energy and patience to care for.  When I see situations like this the thought naturally comes to me as to whether I would have been such a good parent.  Would I have been able to accept God’s will in my life and my family’s life and the life of my child graciously and fully embrace such a thing as an opportunity to serve?  Or would I be consumed with complaining to God for making my child “without handles” and so demonstrate an attitude that God doesn’t know what he is doing and I could have done better?  

And that really is the awful sin of the above verses.  Sour attitudes ultimately question God’s wisdom and love.  It not only causes unbelievers to question our faith but discourages saints who have to listen to you and watch you live out your life.  Right now I can think of Christians who are not handling adversity well at all and I see the discouragement and spiritual harm they impose on others.  And I see others saints who are such great testimonies of the Lord’s grace in the midst of the fire and I have been greatly encouraged by them. 

I don’t know why the Lord allows some of us to fail miserably and others to excel in these things but my prayer is that I will be used to encourage others in the kingdom by honoring the Lord in my life and not be one who constantly struggles to accept God’s providence.  


  1. Amen to this. Thanks, Nathan, I thought about His sovereignty this AM early.

  2. Nathan,
    Regarding your question:
    “I don’t know why the Lord allows some of us to fail miserably and others to excel in these things...”
    I don't either but perhaps the following verses that may shed a little light:

    We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

    1 Thess.:14
    And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

    I think about how much Christ put up with the disciples during His time before He went to the cross. I think about how much He has put up with me and my little trials.
    Lastly, I think of some of the characters in “Pilgrims Progress” and “Christiana's Progress” who were weak and doubted and were afraid as they journeyed to the Celestial City.
    God be praised that He often provides a “Mr. Great-heart” to help weak pilgrims along the Way.