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“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”

–Romans 12:4-5

I was reading something in the Christian Century magazine recently that said jigsaw puzzle sales increased by 300 to 400 percent in 2020, due to the amount of time people spent at home. The last time puzzles were in such demand was during the Great Depression when many people were out of work and looking for inexpensive entertainment.

As a bit of history, putting together puzzles began as a pastime for the privileged who could afford to purchase puzzles when they were first made out of hand-cut pieces of wood. When puzzles began to be mass produced from cardboard, puzzling became more accessible. Historian Anne Williams has said that puzzles are popular in times of distress because “it’s something you can control…It’s also a challenge over which you can prevail.”

During these months of the pandemic when so much has felt uncertain, stressful and out of our control, finishing a puzzle of any size can feel like a real sense of accomplishment. In completing a puzzle, you can literally see something coming together and celebrate the fruits of your labor.

As my dad advanced in age, he and I enjoyed doing puzzles and there was great rejoicing when we would put the last piece in place! What I noticed through the years of puzzling was the different styles we had or the style someone else had who may have been visiting and paused at the puzzle table to put in a piece.

It seems that most puzzlers work to put the border of a puzzle together first, than our styles begin to differ. Some work at a consistent pace, picking up a puzzle piece and trying to find a place for it. Others search diligently among the many pieces on the table for the one piece that fits in a particular spot. Still others divide the puzzle into sections based on different parts of the picture. There does not seem to be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to put together a puzzle…just different ways, with the end result being the completion of a beautiful picture.

We are living in puzzling times. Each decision we make, each aspect of our lives together is a piece of the puzzle. Yet, we are all diverse members of the body of Christ and to be beautifully complete, the puzzle needs each piece. Have you experienced the frustration, disappointment and sense of incompleteness when you realize a piece of the puzzle is missing?

We are all a piece of God’s beautiful puzzle. Let’s not miss out on the gift of seeing the puzzle come together during these puzzling times!