“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)
The relentless heat of a late southern summer hung in the air as I cheered from the sidelines of my son’s football game.
At halftime, while I stretched beneath the searing sun, a curious wonder caught my eye. High above the field, like a vivid smile in the sky, was an upside-down rainbow!
Puzzled by this unusual sight, I did some research and learned this atmospheric anomaly wasn’t technically a rainbow but a “circumzenithal arc”: a vibrant arc formed from the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals rather than through raindrops, which form traditional rainbows.
The calendar has now turned many a year since that afternoon at the football field, but my mind often returns to that upside-down rainbow, for it mirrors life in many ways.
So often, parts of our lives can feel upside down, rearranged in ways that don’t appear quite right according to our human understanding … disrupted plans, health struggles, discouraging news, complicated relationships, financial setbacks, etc. We naturally comprehend life from a right-side-up perspective of normal and familiar, so we can easily perceive those upside-down pieces of our stories as backward and awry.
Yet more and more, I’m realizing the legacy of those upside-down pieces of our stories — for the God who shaped our souls for purpose understands every part of our lives from the eternal perspective of completion.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he speaks of our hazy, human perspective compared with a heavenly perspective: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Paul’s illustration of a mirror was apt for an audience of Corinthians, as bronze mirrors were manufactured in the city of Corinth. Those ancient mirrors reflected less clearly than modern-day mirrors, but even modern mirrors reflect backward images that aren’t as clear as direct sight.
The Greek word Paul uses for “reflection,” αἰνίγματι, translates to “in a riddle” and is where we get the English word “enigma.” An enigma is something puzzling or hard to understand. Just as that upside-down rainbow seemed an enigma to me that afternoon at the football field, so the seemingly upside-down pieces of our stories can feel puzzling, as well.
When we walk through the confusing arcs of our lives, we often long to understand the whys and hows and whens. Yet the peace we seek from these answers can’t be found in the partial, earthly understanding we have available to us now. Paul speaks of a greater, perfect perspective we’ll hold in eternity, assuring us that one day the upside-down pieces of our lives will make sense, complete in purpose and perception.
Still, how can we reconcile this with our spirits today, while we’re still in the throes of questions and confusion? By developing a habit of living peace by piece: We receive His abiding peace in exchange for every puzzling piece of our stories.
Day by day, hour by hour, peace by piece — we release each confusing piece of our lives into the able hands of Peace Himself. (Judges 6:24)
Sweet friend, when you can’t understand the puzzling parts of life that feel so upside down right now, may your soul find rest in God, who has infinite insight for every word in every chapter of the story He’s writing upon your life.
Start right where you are today; ask the Lord to help you release each confusing piece of your story to Him, and receive the perfect peace of the eternal God who sees the end from the beginning and does nothing without purpose. (Isaiah 46:10)
Dear God, thank You that You see every detail of my days through the eternal lens of completion. Please help me release each confusing piece of my story to You, and give my spirit rest while I live with this hazy, earthly sight. I trust You, Lord; thank You for being my very peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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For more encouragement, connect with today’s devotion writer, Brenda Bradford Ottinger, on her website.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)
Create a “peace by piece” journal on your phone or in a notebook. Each time your spirit returns to the confusing parts of your story, write a prayer, offering them to God, and rest in His abundant peace.
We’d love for you to share your thoughts today in the comments.
© 2022 by Brenda Bradford Ottinger. All rights reserved.
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