Thank you to Deanne Johnson for guest blogging this week!
My family recently went on a long road trip that included a weeklong family reunion at a cabin in Northern Wisconsin. Between canoeing, fishing, board games, family devotions and socializing we did what many families do while on vacation: we put together several jigsaw puzzles. Does your family do that too?
I love the challenge of jigsaw puzzles. First, we sorted out the edge pieces and put them together. Then, we began the inner portion using several strategies. Sometimes we worked on a section of a certain color and other times we looked for a piece that would fit an odd-shaped hole.
There is one thing that I noticed while we fit together our pieces. There would be pieces that I would pick up thinking that I could find where they fit, but then failed to do so. As a result, I would eventually set that piece aside, accidentally picking it up a few more times along the way. I would sometimes start thinking of it as “that annoying piece” that I just couldn’t figure out. Maybe it could have been an error that it was in the box. It certainly didn’t seem to fit anywhere.
While that frustrating piece remained on the table, I would continue working on the puzzle and would become more and more familiar with the whole picture. Until finally, as I looked at a part of the puzzle I realized just where that impossible piece would fit. It was like an inspired moment that required a shout of victory. I had found where that mysterious piece fit!
Isn’t that just like studying the Bible? There are verses that leave us puzzled (pun intended). After unsuccessfully searching out how it fits with the rest of Scriptures and in our lives, we are forced to set that portion aside, sometimes with much frustration. It is sometimes brought back to our mind through different Bible studies, but we never quite figure it out. Then, as we read other Bible passages and become more familiar with the Bible as a whole or specific portions of it, we realize a connection that helps us figure out that puzzling portion.
Not long ago, Rachel Schmoyer of Read the Hard Parts shared a tip from Corrie ten Boom that we should figuratively hang that portion up on a hook and continue on with our Bible study. As we continue we may find a different portion that helps us make sense of the first one so we can move it from its hook and add it to our framework of Bible truth. That is exactly what came to my mind while the jigsaw puzzle pieces fell into place.
For example, I have read through Jeremiah several times. All of those portions about judgment on Israel and other nations make sense to me historically, but I never saw much of a connection to my life. Then, recently, as I was reading Jeremiah 51 about God’s judgment on Babylon, I read in verse 56 “For the Lord is a God of recompense, He will fully repay.” I never thought about this verse much before, but it is a bit of a problem for believers since we also deserve punishment for the sins that we have done. Yet, as a believer, I know that I will not receive that recompense that I deserve. So I wondered if God wasn’t always a God of recompense, as it said in Jeremiah 51:56. Then, it dawned on me that He was.
Our punishment was repaid, but not upon us. It was repaid upon Christ. He justly justified us (Romans 3:21-26) by paying our debt (Colossians 2:13-14) and our punishment (Isaiah 53:5). In other words, my punishment didn’t just disappear when I was forgiven, it was poured upon my Savior, Jesus Christ. My puzzling verse fit together with other Bible verses filling in a hole to give me a more complete picture of what my Lord did for me on the cross. What a compassionate, loving, merciful God we have!
Therefore, my advice to you when you come across perplexing Bible verses is to meditate on it and research it, but not get discouraged or frustrated. In faith, continue studying the Bible and your familiarity with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will help the pieces fall into place.
Deanne Johnson is a stay-at-home mom who also blogs at ScriptureAnd.blogspot.com where she loves to connect the Bible to all areas of life, such as music, education, crafts, and products. You can follow her content on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.