Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:18-21 NIV)
I often struggle with this statement: "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."
It feels arbitrary and cold--unloving even. But that's where I get into trouble. Because God is anything but unloving. "God is love." (1 John 4:8) He can't even act unloving because that would go against his very nature as God.
But what struck me most in this passage is that when I struggle with this issue it's because I'm asking the wrong question. Ok, maybe it's better to say that I'm being preoccupied with the wrong question. Because I think asking questions is good. It helps us think and better understand who God is.
But when I see verses like v. 18, or think about some people receiving mercy (like me) while others don't, it feels wrong. And I think I know why--it's because I'm forgetting who God is and what he's like.
First, I'm forgetting he is love (as I mentioned above).
Second, I'm forgetting that he created me. He literally created me out of nothing. I would not be here or exist if he hadn't decided to create me.
Can you imagine where you'd be right now if
God hadn't created you? No, you can't. Because you wouldn't exist. And that's unthinkable.
So like a lump of clay doesn't question the potter crafting it on the wheel, neither is it really appropriate for us to question our Creator and his ways.
After all, to question someone who is all-knowing and all-powerful is a bit arrogant, don't you think?
For an ant to question the one who formed it would seem silly to us. And yet, are we really that much smarter? Maybe we are in the way a surfer is closer to Japan than a toddler in the shallows of the same surf. The surfer is closer but for all practical purposes, they're they same distance away.
Sure, God can handle us asking questions. And asking questions can help us better understand who we are, who he is and how to live better in this crazy world. But if we become preoccupied with this question of "Why?" we can miss the bigger truth:
God is Creator. We are his creation. He SPOKE us into reality from nothing. That order and magnitude matters. A lot.
So before we start questioning God and his ways (again), let us step back and remember who he is and who we are in light of that. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see him in a more accurate light and find ourself...grateful.
What is God saying to you?
What are you going to do about it?