I have two, 100-piece jigsaw puzzles that I enjoyed putting together with my grandchildren when they were younger. Alphabet ABC’s and numbers (1-10) are printed along the top and sides of each puzzle. It took only a few minutes for my husband and me to put them together, but it took much longer for our grandchildren to do it.
Remembering their excitement and enthusiasm about finding the place where a piece belonged is a happy memory. Mixed in with their “Oh, I found a piece!” exclamations of joy were a few “This is too hard; I can’t do it!” complaints. These were often followed by a “Will you help me, Grandma?” request.
Even when our grandchildren are not with us, my husband and I enjoy putting jigsaw puzzles together. Generally, when we purchase a new puzzle, we find that all of the pieces have been included. But invariably, we can’t find one of the edge pieces and one of us says, “This piece is missing!” or “They forgot to put this piece in the box.” The “missing piece” is usually found among the five or six unplaced puzzle pieces left on the table when the puzzle is essentially put together.
100-piece jigsaw puzzles no longer interest my grandchildren. Being in adolescence, they will soon be faced with more complicated puzzles—puzzles of life that will require higher skills, knowledge, and insight. How will they put these puzzles together? What will they do and how will they feel when they can’t find a piece? I hope they will not give up. I hope they will keep on searching. I hope that they will ask for help from those who can see how the pieces correctly fit together.
If we remain in the place of familiarity, we will not grow. Perhaps that’s why, when we think that we have everything figured out in life, something unexpected happens. Life (or perhaps God) sends us a bigger and more complicated puzzle. We can’t figure out how to put it together. We feel discouraged, disappointed, and frustrated.
That’s the way I’ve been feeling this week. In a puzzle of life that I’ve been working on, some pieces seem to be missing. Others don’t fit into the picture that I’ve been imagining. I believe that for some of life’s puzzles, we won’t see the finished picture or understand how all of the pieces fit together until we reach heaven. I wish that were not true—yet, that’s where faith comes in.
Like children, we can become impatient when a puzzle does not fit together in our way or according to our timetable, but God has his own timetable. Our ability to figure out the puzzle and our speed in doing so is not very important to him. What happens within us while we are working on the puzzle is more important than how fast or how well we put it together. Puzzles can be trust builders, if we choose to make them so.
In this place of confusion, I’m choosing to be content that God, the designer of this puzzle, knows the perfect place for each piece. I’m also choosing to believe that when I see the completed puzzle, it will be more beautiful that any picture that I could have imagined.
If you are stuck in confusion, disappointment, or anger because a puzzle in your life is not fitting together in the time or way that you’ve been wanting it to, I hope that you will choose to make your puzzle a trust-builder. I hope that you will hang on to this promise: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 ).