Putting God in a Clay Pot: How Much Does the Lord Understand You?

Do you ever feel like God doesn’t really know what you’re going through? That He doesn’t get how hard it is to be human or that He expects too much of us?

I think this is an easy thought pattern to fall into. “My problem is something different,” we think. “Other people don’t understand, and maybe God doesn’t either. Sure Jesus was human but that was 2,000 years ago. Things have changed.”

Truth is, though, things haven’t changed that much. “There is no new thing under the sun” because human nature stays the same (Ecc. 1:9). And even if things have changed so much that being human is fundamentally different than it once was, God has still taken steps to make sure He understands us. Evidently connecting with us is very important to Him, because He’s done some pretty incredible things in order to get inside our perspectives and also to share His mind with us. Firstly, He made us. Secondly, He experienced human life by Jesus living as a human. Finally, He indwells His people today through His spirit.


If you make something you understand it. You know all the ingredients in the cookies, you know the hours put into shaping clay into an urn, you know the measurements and materials required to machine that part. God understands us even better than that, for He created all the materials we’re formed from and then fashioned us in His own image.

Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows how we are made. He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14, WEB)

Other translations use the phrase “He knows our frame” (Hebrew word yetser, meaning form, framing, or purpose). God made us and knows all about us. We are something formed by him as if we were clay in the hands of a master potter (Is. 29:16 also uses the word yetser).

However, knowing how to make a clay pot isn’t the same as knowing what it’s like to be a clay pot. He could search us and know us more intimately than anyone else (see my favorite Psalm, number 139 for an example), but God in the Old Testament hadn’t yet lived as one of us.


They say if you want to understand someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. God did much more than that when the Son came to this earth as a man. He walked 33 years in our human form.

Who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, yes, the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:6-8, WEB)

Having created the form of man, God now inhabited it as the Word who took on the same form He created (John 1:1-4, 14). Both Father and Son were involved in creation (Eph. 3:9) and both were involved in the decision to send Jesus as the Messiah (John 5:36-37; 10:17-18). The God-family was in perfect agreement about how important it was for one of them to live and die as a human.

Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil … Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:14, 17-18, WEB)

This tells us that one of Jesus’ reasons for coming to this earth was to experience human life and so know first-hand what we are going through. This is an incredible sacrifice for God to make in order to understand you! It’s mind-boggling that one of the two all-powerful beings in the universe would choose to live like one of the clay pots He made all so He could save our lives and understand how to help each of us.


What Jesus did in coming to earth, living as human, and dying for us is amazing in itself. But He doesn’t stop there. He made us, then He lived like us, and now He lives inside us.

For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake, seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. (2 Cor. 4:5-7, WEB)

Today, God is still putting His presence in clay pots (us) through His spirit. He has said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will be their God and they will be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16, WEB). This is an intimate level of knowing that goes beyond how we are made or even what it’s like to be human (John 15:4; 17:22-23). Through the indwelling of His spirit, He knows what it is like to be us in the fullest way we could ever imagine.

So if you ever feel like maybe God doesn’t understand you, remember all the ways that He knows you. He made human kind, lived as a human, and now lives in each of us. No one (including yourself) will ever understand you as well as God does. And there’s a great comfort in that, “for we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Our Lord and Savior knows what it’s like to be human and has deep sympathy for all of us (Heb. 4:14-16). Beyond that, He deeply sympathizes with each individual He’s in a relationship with because we dwell in Him and He in us through His spirit.

I know how hard it is when you’re struggling with loneliness, but when we have a relationship with God we never have to feel fundamentally alone or misunderstood. He’s gone to incredible lengths to have a deep, personal relationship with us. All we have to do is recognize that He’s there.

Featured image credit: JamesDeMers via Pixabay

Earthen Vessels

"Earthen Vessels" a blog post by marissabaker.wordpress.com
These pots are from my first ceramics assignment.

Have you ever taken a pottery or ceramics class? In my hand-formed ceramics course that I took in college, the first assignment was to make a collection of small vessels — pots, vases, bowls, things like that. The first attempts were lumpy, unusable things. One collapsed in on itself, but it looked like a cat with a squished-in nose so I drew whiskers and eyes on the clay and kept it. Some that I thought were good enough broke in the firing. By the time I was finished, I had a small collection of “earthen vessels” that could be used to hold something, but were not much to look at on their own. It is these oddly shaped pots that I thought of when reading this verse:

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Cor. 4:6-7)

We are not fit to hold “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” But our very inadequacy serves as a helpful reminder that this glory does not belong to us, and that we need to be re-made by Him. Thankfully, God is a much better potter than I am. He isn’t limited by the fact that clay pots can’t be reformed after firing. We can be fired and re-molded multiple time, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6)

Trusting The Potter

At a certain level, we are literally made of earth. The clay and potter analogy extends farther than the verses that plainly describe God as our potter.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7)

Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again? (Job 10:9)

He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Ps. 103:14)

We are earthen vessels that God is sculpting in His own image. We are being made and remade to be fit vessels for holding God’s Holy Spirit and the very mind of Jesus Christ.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand. (Is. 64:8)

image from amchurch.net

Sculpting can be a painful process. In my ceramics class, we made hand-thrown tiles. When making tile this way, you take a lump of clay and drop or throw it onto a flat surface, pounding it until it flattens itself out enough that you can pat or roll it smooth and cut it into tiles. If the clay was animate, I suppose it would have thought this was torture, but it is a necessary step to make usable tiles. If something goes wrong, you squish the clay back up in a lump and start throwing it all over again.

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! (Jer. 18:3-6)

Sometimes, we might think we don’t like what God is turning us into or we find the sculpting process too painful. That’s why we need to keep our eyes on the goal, and remember Paul’s assurance “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

“Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’? (Is. 45:9)

Antidote to Pride

"Earthen Vessels" a blog post by marissabaker.wordpress.comPaul said God has shone His light into our hearts, through we are only imperfect earthen vessels, so “that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” God has chosen to share His mind and presence with His called-out people. That incredible gift could either puff us up — “God chose me because I’m something special” — or inspire humility — “if I’m special, it is only because God made me so by choosing me.”

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Cor. 27-29)

Pride is one of the things God hates. I doubt very much that He would indwell a person whose habitual attitude is one of arrogance. In Proverbs 6, the list of things “the Lord hates” begins with “a proud look” (Prov. 6:16-17). In Psalms, God says, “The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure” (Ps. 101:5). We certainly do not want to foster an attitude that is unendurable to God.

Christ assured Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). I wonder if the flip-side is true as well, that Christ’s strength cannot be “made perfect” in someone who thinks they do not need Him. The rest of the verse would seem to bear this out: “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We may be tiny vessels made of clay, but we need not be ashamed of our weakness because it allows Christ to live and work in us.