First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

When things don't go our way.

October 9, 2015

    I think I have shared in the past my disdain for jigsaw puzzles. I have little patience for digging through hundreds of oddly shaped, unevenly colored, and strangely vague pieces of cardboard. I know, I sound whiney right now and I'm okay with that. Jigsaw puzzles....Bleck!!!!!  However, if there is one redemptive aspect of these tedious things it's found in the beauty of the finished product.

 

        (I would seriously consider just cutting the picture off the box, throw it in a frame, and save myself

        the torture, but thats just me)

 

    I cannot visit my mother's house without seeing a puzzle spread out on the dining room table. Mom has great joy of the search and discovery of those obscure pieces that don't look like anything yet are necessary in order for the picture to be complete. The dark pieces that don't make up the flowers, sunsets, faces, or other visually pleasing aspects of a picture are essential for the overall view.

 

    When things don't go like we planned and darkness comes into our heart and mind, where do we go? What do we do? Will the sun come up tomorrow? How will I make it through today? Those dark seasons of our life are painful. They place great burdens on us. Hope is squeezed out of the picture and life takes a turn into fringes of dispair. We scream, "Why?"

 

    In our Bible study on Israel's Exodus, we are exploring a dark time in their history (Exodus 14). Facing the Red Sea and in danger of attack by the Egyptian army from behind, Israel is framed in by terror. What do we do? Where can we go? How will we survive this? "Why us?"

    The pain and suffering endured can often cause us to question God and rebell against the eternal love and will of our creator. While God doesn't stricken us with cancer, cause head-on collisions, divide husbands from wives, He chooses to use those dark times, pain, and suffering for our edification and God's glory. In the midst of our suffering, we decide God should sweep in and bring comfort to the situation. (Sort of like those dark pieces of the puzzle. Throw them away because they are not adding to faces, sunsets, flowers or any other pleasing aspect of the picture.) Through prayer, God can choose to bring relief and a miracle perhaps. Sometimes, prayers can often be answered with silence and or a whisper that says, "Trust me."

    Not sure where the quote originated but I do love its implication, "Untested faith is no faith at all." Darkness and suffering ply and stretch our faith. We cringe and step back aghast that our God would desert us in our greatest time of need. If God is omnipresent (everywhere all the time), then any movement of separation would be on our part. Decisions about dark times in life and dark ambiguous puzzle pieces are similar in that we wish to jettison both. Yet, God never leaves us but always redeems 'all' things for good (Romans 8:28). God is the Great Jigsaw Puzzle designer.

 

        "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all

        kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes

        even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor

        when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)

 

Today, if you find darkness hanging over your life, believe that God is in the darkness walking beside you. God is available to comfort and hold you. He is using this season of fear to strengthen your walk of faith. Keep the faith dear ones.

 

 

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