Have you ever really thought about a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies? They usually call for raw eggs, baking powder, vanilla, sugar, salt, butter and chocolate chips. Together, of course, mixed in the correct portions and cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time, they make delicious goodness. Separately, however, they can be pretty gross. Vanilla smells wonderful, but have you ever just taken a swig of raw extract? Blech! Salt adds savor to just about anything, but in a spoon by itself? You could just about hurt yourself with it. Raw eggs? Good for Rocky, not for me! Baking powder? Who even knows what that is?! And yet, we all love a good chocolate chip cookie.
Life can be like that. Life can offer a dizzying array of unpleasant, even soul-shattering experiences. From abuses we suffer at the hands of others to abuses we afflict on others and even ourselves, and between accidents, incidents and just plain miseries, there are a myriad of “ingredients” to life that we would gladly avoid. However, IF we’ll keep our eyes on the prize, those bitter, sour, painful experiences can become ingredients in something much sweeter. Perhaps that’s what Jesus’ brother had in mind when he wrote, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
When you’re getting cracked, dumped on, whipped, mashed up, rolled out, cut up and shoved in a hot oven, things don’t seem all that great. (And let’s face it, we ALL have experiences that feel like that!) Fixate on those trials and you can seriously get depressed. But recall that all of that will one day be something much much better, and you can find strength.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord