Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.
No one can be established through wickedness,
but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
- Proverbs 12:1-5
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.
From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,
but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked make themselves a stench
and bring shame on themselves.
- Proverbs 13:1-5
“If you think of this world as a place simply intended for our happiness, you find it quiet intolerable: think of it as a place for training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
- C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock
When it comes to wisdom, we could probably stick to Proverbs and never leave, but these two chapter introductions talk of a father’s instruction and corrections. Since that tied into the Lewis quote, I thought I would go with it.
I have had comment discussions with other people about punishment of believers. It might not be punishment from God, or even punishment from our bosses, spouses, etc. But whatever we call our trials, troubles, and tribulations – what I refer to as my Triple “tr-“ – they are indeed instructive and corrective if we see God at work in it.
Our usual response, in many cases, is to blame God. I have, in the midst of a trial, looked up to Heaven and yelled, “And what is THIS all about!?!?!?!” I think the answer is sometimes, “I am giving you one more chance at facing a trial without yelling.” Hey, that might be the reason. You never know, until a bigger piece of the picture falls into place.
And that is the point. Letting the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
We, as a family, used to put jigsaw puzzles together. As the boys got older, the challenges got harder. I remember three of the last challenges, before our younger son left the nest, that nearly had our goat. One was a puzzle of the van Gogh personal portrait, showing the good ear, but the picture was made up of tiny images of other pictures, maybe animal portraits, as a mosaic, each puzzle piece had very little reference to an adjoining piece. It wasn’t until the puzzle was half finished before what we had put together even made sense.
The second challenge was a puzzle with a picture on both sides. They were both impressionist paintings, so the style was close to being the same (maddening, just remembering it), possibly a Monet and a Manet, both outdoor scenes with similar colors. You never knew if you had the piece right side up. They even cut the pieces as to not show a blade bias. But even then, you can create a pile of pieces that you think might be water lilies and then see what fits.
The last challenge was on the honor system. The puzzle came with the words of the challenge instead of the picture. The puzzle challenge was to construct the puzzle upside down and then flip it over to see what you purchased. Over one thousand pieces and they all looked alike, a dull green, until you carefully flipped the puzzle over at the end. While the first two puzzles had little bits of encouragement as you started to see it come together, the third almost became disheartening, until we thought that no jigsaw puzzle had ever defeated us. We then finished it.
One puzzle did defeat us. When in Europe, we bought a 5,000+ puzzle of Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Oh, how I wished we had gotten the Mona Lisa. For years, we never had a table large enough. My Dad built us a table just for the puzzle, and it was kept in the attic, a very hot attic, but over half the pieces were too dark to see any texture and most of the faces looked the same. The table was at my parent’s home. We gave up, years after starting when my parent’s great-grandchildren started eating the pieces.
Why this trip down memory lane about challenging puzzles? When we get a case of the Triple Tr-, we ask God for an explanation, at least a hint as to why this is happening and what we should learn from it, at least if we respond wisely, we might get around to those questions. And the answer is usually slow in response, because enough of the picture must fall into place. And some of our trials may not be understood until the picture is complete, and Jesus carefully flips the puzzle over.
Trust God. He knows what He is doing, and it all works out for the good of those who love Him and obey His Commandments.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.