The central reality of life – which few of us ever seem to glimpse, let alone grasp – is that God is at the centre of everything and is the sovereign ruler of all. Jeremiah likens this to a potter who has complete control of His creations, shaping and moulding them as He sees fit. (Jer 18:4)
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty at times leads us to believe people are mere puppets of God with no free will, and this can lead to passivity and apathy. If God is in control, what point is there in striving and labouring for change?
The Bible holds in tension the truth that people are not puppets, even as it boldly proclaims God’s sovereignty. Jeremiah’s word to Israel spoke of nations repenting and God relenting as well as the opposite happening (God reconsidering the good He had planned for them if the nations continued to walk down the path of evil.) (Jer 18:5-9) We see something of the wonder of paradox in this tension between sovereignty and free will: how our prayers and behaviour can actually have an impact on God and on what He does, even if we have no explanation for how this actually works!
Now is not a time to give up and roll over, to accept passively that we are all doomed because of the current pandemic we face. It is a time to earnestly seek God and to repent of our selfish tendency to live life as though we were at the centre of the universe. It is a time to humble ourselves and to plead with God to have mercy and to relent.
Jeremiah asserted – a lone voice among the prophets, it seems – that ‘my people have forgotten me’ (Jer 18:15), calling this a ‘most horrible thing.’ God’s people are charged with remembering and proclaiming who God is: faithful, gracious, merciful, forgiving, good and kind, but also true, just, and (like the potter) right in everything He does and says. Above all, we are called to declare to those around us that ‘our God reigns!’ (Is 52:7) – not in fatalistic resignation but in confident proclamation, sure that He will do what is right. Our part is to hear Him, heed Him and live in such a way that others see and alternative to the fear and despair that are everywhere. We are called to be clay in the hands of the Master Potter, to be different to those who have no knowledge of Him. May our lives reflect His beauty as we trust daily and walk humbly with Him.