From Black Dot to Masterpiece
“Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
Suffering, whether by illness or shame, has real potential to bring out the worst in people. Mistakes and lies destroy self-worth, patience and understanding draw thin, reactions come from fear, self-pity draws our eyes inward to a state of hopelessness as we focus on our circumstance and not on what can still be. The enemy, celebrates when believers do this; they distance themselves from God. Shame over past mistakes builds a wall clearly saying, “I am unworthy of God’s love.” Suffering leads to complaints and blame. The past, viewed as a black dot, a blemish, desperately trying to be thrown away. The future seems pointless. In reality though, this black dot, when placed in the hands of a master artist can become a masterpiece; what once was too ugly or shameful to talk about, can become something beautiful to share. What is seen as hopeless or purposeless, can be the drive creating powerful change.
Working on a mini study about perspective, I used this analogy of the black dot, to illustrate how perspective matters. When life is viewed through a set of lenses focused only on the hurt or ugliness of the past, one can become darkened in spirit, angry and extreme in their responses.. Eyes transfix themselves on the problem and less on the Lord and his ability to use these mistakes or this suffering for his glory.
The experiment involved a blank piece of paper with a black dot, smack dab in the middle of the page. The people holding the paper were asked about what they saw. Of the people who viewed the paper, some were walking in pain physically and emotionally and saw only the black dot and a ruined piece of paper. Others experiencing significant life challenges and having knowledge of God’s goodness, commented on the white part of the page, but still held a heightened awareness of the stain on the paper. There was still another, who having been tried and tested daily, having endured hardship, and yet still holding fast to God’s faithfulness saw opportunity. This individual viewed the whole piece of paper as being full of possibility; it was considered a masterpiece still waiting to be drawn.
If, for the majority, the little black dot in the middle of the page represents the perspective people hold in hard times and moments of suffering; and if the focus tends to be more on past actions rather than future promises; then it begs the question, “How aware of God are you really in your circumstances?” As I continued to work on this mini study I felt its purpose was to help others change what they are focused on when facing adversity while leaning into God and his grace.
Acknowledging that God’s ways are not your ways, frees you to trust him. In doing so, you change the lens through which you see the circumstances shaping your life. Like that white piece of paper, with its black dot, in the hands of an unskilled artist, it might amount to very little. Yet when you give it over to God, you can trust that there is a masterpiece waiting to be created from the mark otherwise viewed as ruining the page. Trials that once seemed ugly and believed to be ruining your life, can become the very thing that makes your life beautiful and worthy of celebrating.
As the Lord watches over all the earth, seeing the big picture. He knows the potential held in your circumstances. If you take a moment to step back from your problems, you may not be able to see what God sees. You may not even be able to comprehend how anything beautiful or good could possibly be held in what you are experiencing at all. But, by acknowledging that the Lord’s ways are not your ways, perspective turns into faith. Walking in faith, through suffering or trials, failures or the admittance of sinful choices, is painful. However, as you grow spiritually, you understand that, focusing on those things brings bitterness and anger and gives Satan a foothold in your life he is not meant to have. When harsh words and complaints slip through your lips about where you find yourself, you honour your enemy with his kind of praise. But you were never his, and you are never meant to be, so allow praise to stream from your lips in worship to a God who loves you. In this type of praising you submit yourself to God, resisting the devil who flees from you, while drawing near to God, who draws near to you. As you grow in confidence and trust, your spirit matures. What you know only in part now, will someday be revealed to you when you come face to face with Him. As I search through my treasure chest, I find this tidbit to be more precious than gold: learning to praise God in our hardships, whether we know his plan or not, is priceless!
* Thank-you to Braelyn Cheer for the use of her masterpiece
“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). As the black dot of sinful errors or present trials, gives way to incredible potential; trust that God who created you, who loves you, will take your black dot and make it into his masterpiece. He will not see you as blemished and ruined and throw you away, but He will make you into something beautiful.
My heart is heavy, yet my spirit gives you praise. You have brought me into the refiner’s fire, I will rejoice, you make all things new. You, God, will turn me into your masterpiece; taking my situation and using it for your glory. Praise for you will be on my lips.
In Jesus Name,
Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 55:8; 1 Corinthians 13:10-12;
Ephesians 4:2; James 4:7-8