How a Jigsaw Puzzle Renewed Their Faith

For this family, building a puzzle day-by-day taught them a lesson about trusting God.

Posted in , Apr 8, 2020

A teenager doing a jigsaw puzzle.

I stared at the hundreds of jigsaw puzzle pieces spread out on our dining room table. “This is going to take a while.”

“Isn’t that the point?” My 17-year-old daughter, Julia, said. “To keep us off the screens during the quarantine?”

“You’re right,” I said as I picked up a piece, tried unsuccessfully to find its spot, and then set it back down.

“Maybe this will take my mind off of everything I’ve lost,” Julia said. She was a senior in high school, missing the last weeks of school with her friends and teachers. A competition she’d worked for all school year was now cancelled. Her prom and graduation ceremony were in jeopardy.

Next week, she’d celebrate her 18th birthday at home, unable to see her friends. She was unable to work, as the restaurant where she worked was closed. But her biggest worry was for the college scholarship she’d applied for and should've heard from weeks ago. With the university closed, the decision had been delayed. She couldn’t choose which school to attend without knowing how much financial help she’d receive. Her whole future felt uncertain.

“I’m sorry, honey,” I said, picking up another puzzle piece. When I set it back down, I saw a drop of moisture on the table. I looked at Julia’s damp eyes and immediately put my arms around her. “Jules, it’s going to work out.”

“I feel like my whole life is like this puzzle,” she said. “All of the pieces are out of place and I may never get them back together.”

“I know it’s hard when we can’t see the future, but we have to trust God with it.”

She sighed. “If just one piece would go into place, I think I could handle the uncertainty of the rest. I don’t need to see everything at once. I just need a piece of it.”

I’d known since the quarantine started that Julia would struggle with it more than her siblings. Because of her age, but also because of her outgoing personality. She loved her job and she was involved in many activities at her school. Staying home would be the hardest for her.

I ramped up my prayers for her. “Lord, I know other people have bigger problems than we do. Be with the sick and those who have lost loved ones. They are the ones who are truly suffering through this. But help Julia too. Show her what her future looks like, so she can have peace.”

Over the next several days, our family worked on the puzzle a little bit at a time. We got the outside frame put together and then began working on the inside. Little by little, the big picture came together.

As each day went by, I prayed that Julia’s big picture would also come into view. But no scholarship offer arrived. No letter from her high school explaining the new plans for prom or graduation. Everything was still unclear.

Finally, we were down to the final few puzzle pieces. As Julia put one into place, she said, “Mom, when we started this puzzle, I asked God to show me how the pieces of my life would fit together. I still haven’t heard anything.”

I sighed. “We have to just keep praying. And keep trusting God.”

I knew my words weren’t what she wanted to hear, but I had nothing else to offer.

Two days after we completed our puzzle, we got the call. Julia had been awarded a generous scholarship to one of her top choices. As she spoke to the university representative, I hugged her from behind, thanking God through happy tears.

When she got off the phone, she threw herself into my arms. “Thank you, God,” she murmured.

That afternoon, she paid her enrollment fee to her chosen school and picked her dormitory. I could see how much lighter she felt.

At this moment, our jigsaw puzzle is finished. Julia’s future—and everyone else’s—is still unknown. But we know that God is working it out, fitting the pieces of our lives together for good.

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