In his book, Devoted to God, Sinclair Ferguson includes a chapter dealing with what Romans 12:1-2 has to say about the doctrine of sanctification. In v.2 the Apostle Paul says the following:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
There Paul describes the will of God as “good and acceptable and perfect.” Now this passage, strictly speaking, primarily refers to what is known as the preceptive will of God. That is, the will of God as it has been revealed in Scripture regarding how we as believers in Christ are to live. We are to seek to discern and do the will of God. And in doing so, we will find His will to be good, acceptable, and perfect.
But, as Ferguson points out, this passage also has application to the will of God in general, and so even to what is known as His secret or decretive will. And so that means that it has application to the providence of God as well. He writes,
” . . .God’s will is ‘perfect’ because his wisdom is flawless. We see this in small things, perhaps sometimes in great things. The Lord is the master of the jigsaw puzzle of our lives. The pieces may be strangely shaped; often we cannot see how they fit together; but eventually when the big picture is complete we will see that each piece was perfectly shaped. He leads us by ways we could not have guessed, into situations we never expected, to fulfil [sic] purposes we never could have imagined.” (p.52)
What a beautiful way to describe the believer’s perception of God’s providential care over his or her life. It is sometimes very difficult for us to understand what God is doing in our lives. But God truly is the “master of the jigsaw puzzle of our lives.” And He knows what He is doing in our lives, even when we do not. It brings to mind the old, classic hymn by William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” One of the verses of that hymn puts it this way:
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”
What a comfort to know that the will of God is indeed perfect, and that behind every frowning providence He hides a smiling face. Our lives may sometimes seem like a jigsaw puzzle to us, but never to God!