My sister and my daughter both love jigsaw puzzles. I don’t get it. I have tried to participate in this pastime and to find pleasure in it but I just don’t have the “jigsaw puzzle gene”. It usually leaves me feeling frustrated and incompetent. And who would enjoy that?
Maybe part of it is the way my brain is made. I don’t read maps well, have zero sense of direction and struggle with putting things together that have six page instructions and forty-two parts. Torture!
Another problem I have is dealing with things that don’t make sense to me. When my daughter was home for Christmas we decided to put together a beautiful puzzle of New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza all lit up at night. I found a piece that looked perfect for a certain spot. When I kept trying to force it into that particular space Molly finally said, “Mom! It’s not going to go into that spot because it doesn’t belong there. Can’t you tell that it’s not the right shape?”
Well actually, no. To me it looked like just the right size, shape and color variation to fit EXACTLY in that spot. And it frustrated me that it wouldn’t! Sometimes I find my mental frustration with puzzles has a direct correlation to my spiritual frustration when things don’t “fit”, when they don’t make sense to me at all. When a child suffers. When a newborn never takes its first breath. When a good person’s life is cut short and an evil person is allowed to remain on this earth. When a spiritual leader disappoints or deceives his followers. When the pieces don’t fit as I think they should I struggle and sometimes I want to put the entire puzzle back in its box.
Sometimes I find my mental frustration with puzzles has a direct correlation to my spiritual frustration when things don’t “fit”
I think my predecessor, Job, must have felt the same way when his life was disintegrating and nothing made sense. The pieces weren’t falling into place as they were suppose to and chapter after chapter in the book of Job he is trying to see the overall picture, to understand the “why” and to make the pieces fit. “I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish” he says in Job 7:11. He then argues with his peers because (Job 9:32) “God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.”
Thirty-five chapters in the book of Job (chapters 3-37) are filled with arguments, reasoning, questions, discussion and rebuttal, sometimes between Job and his companion and sometimes railing at God himself. Then finally in Chapter 38 we hear God put an end to all the chatter with questions such as these:
“Where were YOU when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much.” (v4).
“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east?” (v12)
“Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?” (v31)
“Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightening appear and cause it to strike as you direct it?” (v 34-35)
Whoa! That’s what I would call a tongue lashing straight from the mouth of God himself. In Chapter 40 God says, “Do you STILL want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
(v 3-5) Then Job replied to the Lord, “I am nothing – how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
When the pieces don’t fit as I think they should I struggle and sometimes I want to put the entire puzzle back in its box.
After Job humbles himself before God and repents for his arrogant thoughts and ways, God continues to rebuke and reiterate His position for yet another chapter then Job replies to the Lord (Job 42:2,3), “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You ask, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.”
Job’s story has a happy ending as God restores life and laughter to him once again, blessing the second half of his life even more than the first. I love getting to read that part but I also love that we have recorded for us the anguish, the mental torment and the questioning that preceded the blessings. It makes me know that I am not alone in my quest to make the puzzle pieces fit.
I was talking with a friend recently about how much easier it is to have faith in HINDSIGHT rather than FORESIGHT. I compared God to a master chess player who moves things around for our ultimate benefit even though we are sometimes upset and disappointed about what is happening in the moment. When we look back it is often easy to see how He was at work orchestrating our best blessings but at the time we feel clueless and confused.
Or maybe like me you may be forcing that piece of the puzzle in a spot where it doesn’t belong, certain that you know how things should be. Learning to trust the master designer, to pay attention to the details and to patiently persist in creating the beautiful life HE has designed for you are all lessons hard to come by for a “non jigsaw” person like me.
As I grow in my faith and understanding, my goal would be to “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all our ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I may not be able to fit all the pieces to the puzzle of my life today but I am confident that God is putting together a picture that is beautiful in His eyes. I Corinthians 13:12 gives me assurance, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”