The Perfect Picture

Yael Eckstein  |  September 22, 2020

A missing puzzle piece that leaves a black cutout within a white puzzle.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he
. — Deuteronomy 32:4

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ha’azinu, which means “listen,” from Deuteronomy 32:1–52.

My family enjoys doing large jigsaw puzzles and sometimes we will work on one for weeks at a time. I am always amazed at how the puzzle goes from hundreds of small pieces that look like a jumbled mess on our table to a complete picture by the end of the process. Along the way, there are times that I can’t imagine how any of the disparate pieces make sense, and sometimes I wonder if we are missing pieces because the puzzle looks impossible to finish with what we have left. But when the final piece goes in, it’s a great feeling as we appreciate how all the pieces come together to produce the perfect picture.

In this week’s portion we read, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just…” According to Jewish tradition, this verse is intended specifically for times when the exact opposite seems to be true — when it appears as though everything is wrong, and we don’t understand God’s plan for our lives. In these difficult times, we are called to trust that God is perfect and that He is working to produce the perfect picture for us. God’s ways are perfect, even when we can’t understand.

There is a story told about Maimonides, a famous 12th-century rabbi, who asked his dying disciple to bring him answers to a list of questions having to do with matters of faith, suffering of the righteous, and the like. After the student passed away, he appeared to Maimonides in a dream — but he had no answers. He explained: “I did as you asked. I stood in Heaven and began to read your list. But as I was reading them, I fell silent. I realized that from where I was standing, there were no questions.”

When things look confusing to us, as if God has forgotten about our world, let’s remember that we are looking at an unfinished puzzle.  From where we stand, we cannot see God’s perfect picture. There are more pieces yet to be placed, and it is only when the last piece is in that the picture will be complete.

At that time, it will be clear to us that “his works are perfect.” Our challenge now is to believe it even when we can’t see how.

Your turn:

Which Bible verse(s) encourages you to have faith in God during difficult times? Let me know in the comments below!