09 May Why Life Appears To Suck – As Told By A Lump Of Clay
Imagine for a moment that you are a lump of clay. You are gray lumpy and no offense, kinda ugly. Then a pair of hands grab you.
First, they start slopping you with water. It feels kind of gross and maybe even feel like you might drown. Then the hands start pounding on you. It hurts, but this is just the beginning. Next, the hands start to push, pull, press, and pound some more. Now its not just the hands that are giving you the beating, but you find yourself spinning rapidly in circles as the hands continue to manipulate you. Then come the knives. Little by little you are cut to pieces. First your edges are cut off completely. Then little cuts are dug into your outer layer. You breathe a sigh of relief as the pounding and cutting stops… but its not over yet. The next thing you know you find yourself in a furnace, literally being burned in fire. You find yourself hardening. Your very nature is changing. Then the fire stops and you think its over. You spend a short period cooling – just resting and relaxing. However, one more stop awaits. Layers of paint are added to your surface. Perhaps it feels like you can’t breathe. What is going on? When will it all end? Then… it is finished – once and for all.
At no point in this process are you aware of what is going on or why it is happening. All you know is that it hurts, that you are being changed, and that you are not in control. You can’t see the final product. You may not even be able to see the progress in the moment. However, once it is all over, if you could look in the mirror, you would see that you are no longer a lumpy ball of smelly grey mush. You are a beautiful pot – with captivating curves, intricate etches, vibrant colors, and life-giving usefulness.
Interestingly, this is one of the pictures that the Bible gives us about our relationship with God. He is the potter and we are His clay. Life often feels like the above description. It is filled with pain. We are pounded, spun in circles, cut to pieces, burned, and suffocated. But once its all over, we have been made into something unique, something beautiful, something divine. We are God’s special creation. The problem is that we often cannot see beyond our current pounding. We know that once this pounding ends, some other trial is sure to begin… and so we often desire to give up.
Paul went through these things over and over. In fact, he went through more poundings and cuttings than most of us ever will (Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 and realize that this list is only halfway through Paul’s ministry). Yet, in spite of all this pain in his life, Paul tells us why he continues through the suffering. You see Paul saw heaven. He saw the hope beyond the suffering. He saw the finished product. In his own words, Paul encourages us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” Paul saw the pots. He saw the potter. And he saw the beauty of the shelves which we will adorn in eternity.
It’s easier said than done, but next time you are going through trials, remember to consider it all joy. Try to see what the potter may be shaping through the suffering. Try to see yourself as a pot in process. God is with you. He is shaping you. He uses the pains of your life to strengthen you and reform you. They may feel like they will never end, like they have no point, and that its not worth it. But you can smile, because in the end you will be even more beautiful than you already are and you will have an eternity to celebrate the finished work with the Potter Himself.