We all want answers: “How long will this pandemic last?” “How many will die?” “Will I get it?” “Will my loved ones stay safe?” “Will I lose everything?” “What will life look like on the other side?”
The sad and hard truth is that no one really knows the answers to any of these questions.
Maybe that’s why some of us are drawn to diversions like assembling jigsaw puzzles where the pieces do eventually fit together.
Last week, I remembered a puzzle of Paris that I had bought the previous year and never opened. I was saving it for the “right time” and amidst the fears and uncertainty that ramped up last week, it was definitely the right time for me to work on that puzzle.
1,000 pieces depicting a city that I had never visited yet remained on my “bucket list.”
Lots and lots of seemingly identical pieces of windows and tree branches.
For a while, the challenge was an enjoyable diversion. Assembling the border was fairly easy. Figuring out the sections clearly differentiated by color brought a sense of satisfaction.
Then, came the hard part. The part when all the remaining pieces looked alike, and I kept wondering “what was I thinking? How will I ever put this puzzle together? There’s no way I will be able to finish this.”
At one point, I pulled out a hammer for comic relief, wanting to hammer pieces together when they didn’t “quite fit.”
Instead, I stepped away and quit trying to force-fit the pieces together. Took a walk. Savored the beauty of spring and set about noticing countless remarkable details in the world around me.
When I returned to the puzzle table, I had a fresh perspective. A new mindset: a hopeful resolve that I could figure it out.
Within a few hours, I had completely assembled the indomitable puzzle!
What a picture of life during this season of utter confusion that puzzle provided.
Yes, I want answers.
Yes, I want life to smoothly fit back together.
Yes, I see a picture of how I’d like things to be.
But life seems completely overwhelming.
Nothing makes sense.
What did God teach me through the puzzle?
-Not to give up.
-To continue to look for possibilities and fresh ideas of how to tackle problems.
-To step away and take a few deep breaths when stuck.
-To notice details.
-To realize that when the answers come, bit by bit, things fit together smoothly. Using a “hammer” or forcing solutions (or relationships) that aren’t really right will only lead to disappointment.
-To continue looking for solutions, even when they take a while to become apparent.
Most of all, I am reminded that while I don’t see the big picture, the Lord does.
These verses from Proverbs 3:5-6 keep running through my head:
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
In these days of uncertainty, when we have so many more questions than answers, I pray that you will continue to seek God and look and listen for His answers.
My precious father had a song that was the anthem for his life. For 93 years, my dad's deep faith enabled him to face life’s challenges and cope with numerous physical infirmities without losing his hopeful and encouraging spirit. Here is Josh Groban’s rendition of his favorite song:
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone.”
What was the hope in my dear dad’s heart? The same hope that sustains me, even when the puzzle pieces of life don’t seem to fit together: the hope provided by Jesus Christ, the anchor of my soul.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”