I don’t remember the first time I saw a portrait mosaic. I think I was sitting in a doctor’s office or a waiting room somewhere, and at first I wondered if it were some kind of new impressionistic art. The image was all fuzzy and out of focus, and I didn’t understand why it would be framed and displayed.
Well, I just had to look closer.
That one big image was actually made of a ton of smaller images. Probably tens of thousands of little images all came together in one big portrait. I don’t remember what the subject of the portrait was, but the concept stuck with me.
Life is a portrait mosaic
I have my own little picture of my life. I know its shape and size. I know what colors it has. I know the subjects in it. I know what it focuses on. I know because I can see it. It’s my life. I know what it looks like.
You have one too. Everybody does.
Little stories, big picture
We all have an idea of what the portrait of our life looks like. It’s smooth and in focus. It’s not missing any pieces. And it’s perfectly cohesive from one corner to the next. That’s what we see.
But if you look look closer, you’ll realize that your big life portrait is actually made up of many smaller portraits. We all live more than one story. We all experience events in our lives that change who we are and challenge what we believe.
Not everything that’s happened in my life has been happy. Not every choice I’ve made has been good. But God is big enough that He’s taken all those dark spots in my life and fitted them perfectly into the grand portrait of my life.
This is what we’ve got to remember. Just because there’s an experience we’ve had that wasn’t positive doesn’t mean our lives are over. As much as it would be nice to imagine a life full of nothing but happy memories, that’s not how it works.
We live in a broken world
Our first parents broke the world long ago, and we’re still dealing with the consequences of their actions. Nobody is perfect. No life is perfect. No relationships are perfect. So that means we’re all trying to build a life using broken pieces, and it’s not something we have the power to do.
But God does.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
This verse has been used too much probably, but isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it comforting? If you belong to Jesus, if you’re seeking His heart, you can trust that everything happening in your life will ultimately turn out good. Because God is good, even if your circumstances aren’t.
Maybe you lost your job. Maybe a loved one has died. Maybe you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, or maybe you’ve just endured the end of a relationship you thought you’d never lose. Those are all bad things. Nobody’s saying they’re good.
But God is big enough to take those bad things and plug them into a bigger picture where they will play a role in making a beautiful story come to life. That negative experience will just be a part of the larger picture. After all, portraits have to include shadows, or else the image won’t be realistic.
Life might stink right now. It’s okay. Say it. God never promised that life wouldn’t stink. He actually promised the exact opposite (John 16:33). What He did promise is that we wouldn’t have to go through those times of difficulty and suffering alone (Matthew 28:20). He also promised that those dark moments we have to endure won’t be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
When we see one part of a portrait, God sees the whole piece in its entirety. We may only be able to see one pixel right now, and that pixel might be blacker than the pit. But even the brightest painting still has a few flecks of darkness in it. How do you know you aren’t just seeing one of those?
And if the opposite is true and all you see are the good moments, understand that you’ll have to go through some bad stuff too. Everyone does. But a bad situation doesn’t have to ruin your life. A bad situation can be the stepping stone you use to climb higher than you’ve been before.
So instead of focusing on one picture, try looking for the others. You can’t see things from God’s perspective, but you can trust Him when he says He’s got it under control. He sees the whole picture when we see just a small piece.