By Sally Lombardo
“Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” – Psalm 119:73–76
One evening, years ago, I was gazing out my kitchen window and saw an evening cloud formation that looked like giant hands. When I called my friend to alert her to look into the sky, she quickly sent me a photograph that many people have called “The Hands of God.” This cloud formation looked like two hands cupped around dark clouds. I have never forgotten how awe-inspiring those hands were, and how much they looked like God’s protective grasp.
Psalm 119 is an excellent psalm to meditate on during Lent. It teaches us how a young man can keep his ways pure—by guarding them according to God’s law (v. 9). It lists soulful laments describing how the psalmist “clings to the dust” and begs God to give him new life through the strength of His Word (v. 25). Some verses that describe sorrow and shame sound like my own prayers. Each of the 22 stanzas in Psalm 119 voices penitent cries, and I find the psalms very comforting—like those giant hands comforted me that night. But God’s Word is a stronger comfort. For instead of finding hope in clouds that shift and change, we can declare with the psalmist: “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (Psalm 119:89–90).
The psalmist’s struggle resolves when he quietly follows the commandments and the Law of the Lord. His poignant words plead for deliverance, mercy, and provision in the face of a harsh world. If you read it with your own needs in mind, you may be surprised at how closely it describes reality. Thankfully, these gifts of mercy, sustenance, provision, and grace are precisely what God has offered us.
If you believe that God created you with the skilled hands of a potter, you will trust him. You can seek God for wisdom rather than following the world’s estimation of glory, achievement, and success. In the trials of sickness, work, parenting, and hostility, you can hope in God. He made you with his hands, and he cares for all he has made.
In a long prayer for mercy for Israel, the prophet Isaiah writes: “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). God made each of us unique. The word “my” is often used before the attributes of God, showing his intimate connection to who we are. In many psalms, God is referred to as my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, my God (Psalm 18:2). When, like a potter, he molds you with his hands during this season of Lent, remember that you can trust his hands to make something new.
When do you find it difficult to trust the potter’s hands? What is one way you can help build your trust in God and his word this week? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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