Perhaps because I am around the family more during the holiday, I’ve been remembering a lot of insights from those relationships. The last few posts have been a little off of the artistic theme I usually try to follow, but be patient with me. The holidays will be over soon enough, and I will refocus. Most of my adult life I have spent November and December wondering if there was really life after Christmas, but I guess that is because it is true what my husband says that I make way too much out of the holidays.
A friend of mine called the other day to tell me about a particularly unpleasant and painful family in-law problem she was having. She wanted to know what the Bible would say about her responsibility in the matter. It was, frankly, one of those issues with which we are all a little uncomfortable remembering that God is sovereign. How much easier to pretend that God has nothing to do with the nasty stuff of life. “Just ignore it and maybe it will go away”, we would like to tell ourselves.
As I was reviewing the conversation, I remembered the problem my daughter had getting my grandson to eat with he was three years old. While he is a strapping, healthy, athletic young man now, at that time he was a VERY picky eater. While thinking about my friend’s problem and the struggle my grandson had with eating, the thought occurred to me. . . “God, Himself, has prepared this plate of suffering.” With that thought, I saw so clearly the image of God patiently holding a spoonful of something green or yellow to our lips. As I considered the struggle my daughter had to get nutritious, well-balanced meals down my grandson, I wondered if God, too, is only trying to provide us with what we need to grow strong and capable so that we might be prepared to handle our destiny in the Kingdom.
Playing out the analogy I considered all the possible ways we might react to our Divine Caretaker when we are faced with a plate of something unattractive and difficult. Do we take a big mouthful and blow it out and spit all over the place? We do if we give in to anger, resentfulness, and revenge. Or perhaps we fold our arms and press our lips tightly together by grumbling and whining. Then there are those children who simply dawdle and play while they move food around and push it off the plate, under the napkin, or onto the floor, hoping that it will be over and cleaned up before anyone notices that they never actually ate anything. Is that what we are like when we try to ignore the difficult situations in life? If we can’t deny their existence, we might insist vehemently that they don’t come from God: “It is just the Devil’s plan to rob us of joy.”
Are we like toddlers that are only interested in the sweet, tasty treats in life and are totally unwilling to eat the vegetables and meat necessary to assure that we will grow to maturity and be able to take a responsible role in the Kingdom of God? Perhaps it would help us to open our mouths and swallow more cooperatively if we could remember that God, Himself, has prepared all the circumstances of our life and whatever He is serving to us is because He knows what we need to grow up big and strong.