Forest and Trees

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25–27 NLT)

An idiom is a kind of linguistic shorthand. Rather than digging into the details to describe just how heavy the downpour is, you can say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” This really only works because the phrase itself has become so established in the language that most people pick up on the meaning even though the phrase itself is nonsense.

Another popular idiom is “missing the forest for the trees.” This is a description of someone who is too focused on the details they lose sight of the larger picture. Interestingly, there isn’t an exact antonym to this phrase. Certainly, “trees” and “forest” could be switched – “missing the trees for the forest” – but with how idioms generally work, that just might cause people to think you’ve confused the original phrase. There really isn’t a specific idiom – at least, not one that is popular – that speaks to focusing on the larger picture at the expense of the smaller details. Maybe it’s just human nature to narrow our focus rather than broaden it. It could be we simply find it easier to pay attention to the details rather than the larger picture.

Thankfully, we serve a God who has no such struggles. He does not miss the forest or the trees.

While Jesus was hanging on the cross, bearing the sins of the world – of all people across all time – he was certainly aware of the importance of this moment. After all, his death and resurrection together serve as center spoke in the wheel of history around which all things spin. This was the beginning of the culmination of his earthly ministry. And yet, he still recognized his mother in her time of need and made sure that his disciple John would look after her.

As her eldest son, it would have been his responsibility to care for her as she aged; that was the duty of a faithful son. It was also his duty as the faithful Son of God to carry out his Father’s will.

Jesus is faithful in all things. He has not failed us, nor will he. He remains faithful to us as individuals, caring for our specific needs and comforting us in our personal sadness, and he also remains faithful to us as his creation, working out the redemption of all things.

Praise God, who is faithful in all things and to all people!