"Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor [in his heart]? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God."
Isaiah 50:10 (Amplified Bible)
My friend, Holly, had our Bible study group do a very simple, but profoundly moving exercise yesterday. We are finding out that God loves romance--it's all over the book of Ruth. We talked about many different things yesterday, but the overall theme was that life can be very complicated. Who else besides our group knows that today?
Holly shared a very thought-provoking quote with us early in the study:
Expectations are premeditated resentments.
Now just think about that for a minute. Isn't life full of unmet expectations? Our deepest wounds can come from unmet expectations that we have had. I can think of more than I have room to list here, but here is a sample of mine:
1) Marriage will make me complete.
2) It is possible to have perfect children.
3) Life with Jesus is going to be always happy, with little or no trouble.
4) My family/friends will never let me down.
5) I will never let my family/friends down.
6) If I work hard enough, I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
7) I can find fulfillment in my "dream" home, "dream" car, or "dream" clothes.
8) If I pray enough, read my Bible enough, have faith enough, nothing bad will ever happen to me or those I love.
I could go on and on. The truth is, my sisters, that life is downright hard and very complicated. There are so many cliches and not enough answers sometimes. A lot of life with Christ is life that does not have all the answers. Bad things happen to good people. The storms come to all of us, whether we are striving after Jesus or not.
At the end of Bible study, Holly passed out the 24 pieces that made up a children's puzzle depicting Ruth gleaning in the barley fields. She gave two pieces to each participant. She instructed those of us that had corner and edge pieces to go first to the middle of the room and lay down our pieces on the floor. Those with inside pieces laid theirs down after the edges were completed. It took all the puzzle pieces to make a complete picture.
What pieces do you have laid down on the floor of this life? Maybe it seems that none of the pieces fit together at all. Horrible circumstances that seem to have no purpose have only given you confusion. My sweet sister, please be encouraged. Our Jesus holds all those pieces. At the exact right moment, He will allow some of those pieces to fit to encourage our hearts. But let His Word be clear: we will never know the full picture until we reach heaven. But what would it do to our attitudes and our level of joy if we knew that this glass that we see through darkly will be shattered someday? One day, it will all make sense. On that glad resurrection day we will say,
"Jesus, You did all things well in my life!"
We don't have to worry about being able to see everything right now. One expectation that will never be unmet is His ability to supply the grace in just the exact measure we need to face the sometimes painful process of the pieces of our life fitting together. One glorious day, we will know, regardless of how we feel right now, that our God was, and is, always in control.
Jesus, the crucified life is lived so much in the dark. In my humanness, I want to know more than You sometimes reveal. Help me not be offended at You when I don't get the answers that I want, when the puzzle pieces just seem to be so random that I am holding in my hand. One day those corner, edge, and inside pieces are going to fit perfectly and I will be able to see the picture that You envisioned for my life. Help me in the waiting, when the temptation is huge to doubt Your goodness. Those who look to You are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34). You are my heart's shining splendor--that is my promise in the dark.