Shattered: The Puzzle

There are moments in our faith journeys wherein life and faith just don’t make sense. Much like putting a puzzle together without the photo from the puzzle box, we feel as though we are left with a bunch of “random” pieces and no way of putting them together.

I want to encourage you to consider several truths during these moments in your life.

First, God works in us to develop “true” faith that leads us to totally depend on Him as we consider our situation.

Abraham’s faith journey begins with God’s call and promise(s) to him. God promises him the impossible-a child in his old age! Paul speaks of Abraham’s faith in Romans 4:18. Paul writes that Abraham believed “in hope against hope”. In verse 19, he adds “without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” Verses 20-21 continues, “yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, v 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

What seems to be impossible and difficult is what brought about God’s redemptive plan! Verses 23-25 Paul explains how Abraham’s belief in God relates to his righteousness and establishes a parallel for us who believe in Christ’s death and resurrection.

Faith wasn’t easy for Abraham nor should we expect it to be for us. The key to Abraham’s righteousness and faith was a firm belief that God would deliver according to His promises. In simple terms, Abraham trusted God’s Word and believed. Doing so gives glory to God. Have you considered that your difficulties and struggles in faith may be on display for God’s glory? God will work in our lives for His greater glory! Consider Job’s trial of faith in this regard.

The Firm Foundation of Faith is Belief and Trust

It’s important to properly know God and His Ways as He reveals Himself. As He guides us along this journey of faith we will experience His goodness, compassion, and gentle nature; but we can’t base our faith on our experience(s). What if we wrongly interpret or misunderstand the events of our lives? Our perspective can become twisted and colored by our disappointments and difficulties. We must depend on God’s Word and the truths that He reveals about Himself and our nature to properly ground ourselves. It’s easy to misunderstand and incompletely understand events when we are experiencing doubt, grief, loss, etc! God reveals Himself to be a Good Creator and us as sinful and fallen creatures. We need to remember our nature and position in relation to God!

Consistently reading and meditating on God’s Word grounds us in the reality of God’s nature and presence. I recommend that you read and study God’s Word with the intention of applying what God reveals to your life. God’s Word (Bible) is the picture to help us to put together the puzzle!

When the pieces don’t want to go together

Have you ever tried to force a puzzle piece into fitting in the open spaces? Doesn’t work too well does it? Our lives and journeys of faith are complex with multiple layers and dimensions. Have you ever put together a 3D puzzle? They’re a different level of challenge from the normal 2D puzzles.

I use the example of Abraham frequently because his life and faith journey teaches much about God and our nature! Abraham tries to help God with Hagar and Ishmael. That doesn’t turn out well does it? If we are honest, we try the same thing ourselves! Yet God’s grace and mercy shines forth through Abraham’s failures. God doesn’t give up on Abraham! God graciously works in his life and circumstances to make him more faithful and trusting.

God promises us His presence and guidance. Yet, when we get confused or impatient we often turn to our fellow humans or worldly wisdom for guidance instead of going directly to Christ. It’s wise to seek counsel and ask trusted friends to pray for us in times of need. God established the church to provide Christians with community wherein we can grow and strengthen each other in fellowship, community, and service. God gifts men and women with spiritual gifts to serve and edify the community! However, it’s our responsibility to seek God first and invest time in His Word studying so that we can properly relate to God and others.

God allows us to be tested in the areas of His promises to us.

This is obvious in the life of Abraham. God promises to protect him then Abraham has to face the reality of famine and living in hostile territory. He lies to Pharaoh and later Abimelech to save himself from potential harm. This commentary article gives perspective:

After John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, Holy Spirit leads Him into the desert to be tested. Satan’s tests Jesus based on His role as Messiah. Why does God allow this? Because Jesus is setting an example of perfect response to trial. Jesus establishes Himself as perfectly righteous in His total dependence on God and His Word. Jesus shows us the key to victory: living through God’s Word.

Satan will tempt you to despair. He will try to convince you that God isn’t really good. He will encourage you to seek out life in yourself, in worldly pleasures, and in others. Satan’s number one priority is to get us to focus on ourselves and our needs instead of trusting in God. Satan is a powerful force that will come against you in your journey of faith.

The best counter to a lie is the truth! Thankfully, God’s Living Word and Guiding Holy Spirit leads us in truth and keeps us on track. Remember that Satan comes only to lie and destroy (John 10:10). True life comes through our Good Shepherd not through material/worldly success or human religion!

So what should you do when the pieces don’t fit? Trust and wait in God. Remember that we don’t have to see the “big” picture or understand what God is doing to be faithful.

God doesn’t explain Himself or tell us why

Knowledge can be a trap. We often want to know the “why” and “what” of the things that are occurring in our lives that confuse and frustrate us. The danger comes when we desire knowledge about God more than being in a proper relationship with God! This is a subtle trap for young, eager theologians like me. Knowing God better means that we should love and trust Him more! Theology studied and applied leaves us in awe of God’s Great Compassion, Holiness, and Mercy! Studying God’s Word reminds me just how perfect God is and that we humans are so fragile and foolish! Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1:25

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Paul is referring to God’s salvation, specifically preaching the death and resurrection of Jesus to the Greeks and Jews. The Greeks considered Jesus being human and divine to be foolish as they considered the spiritual nature to be above flesh. They couldn’t believe that God would become flesh as flesh is considered weak/sinful in regards to spiritual. What god would condescend to becoming human?

The Jews denied Christ as Messiah because He wasn’t a political leader and was “hung on a tree.” Being hung or executed on a tree/cross was considered to be a sign of being cursed by God. They couldn’t understand that God’s curse on Christ is what leads to being made right with God! Tragically, we can see that both the Gentiles and Jews found reasons to deny Christ! This is because both parties are unable to perceive God’s plan and work through His Son. It’s possible to find reasons to not trust and depend on God. This happens when we depend on ourselves and other fallen sources for answers instead of God and His truths! In a similar manner, we also can trap ourselves in a vicious cycle of remaining focused on our difficulties/complaints and attending our own pity parties. When this happens, the best thing to do is re-focus on God.

God might not explain the particular reason why you are struggling or facing difficulties. However, God’s Word provides general ideas of why we suffer: here are 3 generalities

  1. righteous people living in a fallen world will suffer because of our sins and those of others–God doesn’t stop us or others from making bad and evil choices
  2. Jesus promises us tribulations and difficulties–God doesn’t promise us a prosperous or easy life for trusting and following Him. Jesus promises that He overcomes!
  3. God creates faith and dependence in His redeemed–this process involves difficult trials and lessons as He molds us

If God told you specifically why you are facing a difficulty would it make it any easier? Knowing why doesn’t guarantee that we will trust Him more; consequently, it can have the opposite effect. For example, God reveals to King Saul why He rejected him as king. Saul doesn’t repent or trust in God. He becomes jealous and full of hate toward David. God made His plans for the conquest of the Promised Land clear to the Hebrews yet they still rebel against Him. Hebrews Chapter 11 defines faith and provides numerous examples for us. The common theme is that faith involves trusting God’s promise(s) and hoping in Him.

Hope when the puzzle doesn’t seem to be coming together

God works in His own time in accordance with His ways! If we are honest, we often don’t understand or appreciate God’s timing as we have our own schedules! Patience is a virtue that’s easy to consider/desire but hard to acquire. Patience requires waiting and trusting. God is more interested in us as a finished work than immediately satisfying our wants. I write these words to you as I am experiencing a season of waiting. My situation requires that I endure and wait through the “unknown” and anxious thoughts of what comes next.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait alone or face the uncertain future apart from God. I find comfort in considering God’s nature and knowing that what He has started He will finish. Beneficial study on God’s attributes

While I don’t have the answers, I have a relationship with the One who Knows All Things (Omniscient God), Has Infinite Presence (Omnipresent God), Infinite Power (Omnipotent), and is Omnibenevolent (God is All Good) ! Since God knows all things and seasons, I don’t have to! That’s a liberating thought when life seems incomprehensible and overwhelming. Since God has all power then He can easily accomplish what He plans. Thankfully, God is completely and perfectly Good. Even when we can’t understand, we can trust because God is Good and His Ways perfect.

Faith is victorious and we have assurance of completion in Christ! While our lives may not go easily or in accordance with our dreams/desires, we can trust that God’s plan and purpose for us will succeed. Ultimately, God delivers all the men and women of faith in His Word to His presence! When the pieces just don’t seem to fit we can trust that God is working and that He will deliver us to Himself! God will piece us together, especially when we are most shattered!

The next blog in this series will address finding rest in God (Hebrews Chapters 3 &4).

May God bless you with His presence and enlighten your minds to His great truths as you read and apply His Living Word to your journey of faith! Remember that God doesn’t break the broken reeds!

For His glory and the encouragement of fellow pilgrims, I write these words,

Lee Stanfill

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Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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