“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” -James 1:1-4
Difficulties and trials aren’t our favorite parts of life, but much like athletics, we understand the necessity of “workouts,” even though our preference would be a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper by the pool. Did any of us enjoy running wind-sprints after practice or two-hour workouts on a hot Texas afternoon? We don’t like difficulty and trial, but we understand the necessity of it all. Our coaches pushed us so we would be in shape for the game, just as God pushes so we’ll be at our best for life. Resting in letting God have His way and will makes all the difference!
Chuck Swindoll tells a great story about codfish. In the NE United States codfish are a big commercial business. There is a market for eastern cod all over, especially in sections farthest removed from the northeast coastline. But the public demand posted a problem to the shippers. At first, they froze the cod, then shipped them elsewhere, but the freeze took away much of the flavor. So, they experimented with shipping them alive, in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, but the cod also still lost its flavor and, in addition, became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected.
Finally, some creative person solved the problem in a most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy- the catfish. From the time the cod left the east Coast until it arrived at its westernmost destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank. And, you guessed it, when the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected. If anything, it was better than before.
Each one of us is in a tank of particular and inescapable circumstance. It is painful enough to stay in the tank. But in addition to our situation, there are God-appointed “catfish” to bring sufficient tension that keeps us alive, alert, fresh, and growing. It’s all part of God’s project to shape our character so we will be more like His Son.
Understand why the catfish are in your tank. Understand they are part of God’s method of producing character in your life and mine. Understanding doesn’t mean we “like” it, but we don’t have to like it to submit ourselves to it. Hum. That’s where faith trusts and submits to a sovereign God- even when nothing makes sense! That’s the reason we have the narrative called the Bible to remind us that we can have peace and contentment in the midst of difficulty.
Be willing to trust God and let Him do His thing in our lives. His plans are good- kind of crazy sometimes, but good. Understanding God’s good purpose doesn’t make the trial any easier. We would all prefer to “have our cake and eat it too.” In other words, we want all the rewards of trial without the difficulty.
But let’s rise up, put on our pads and run on down to the field where practice is beginning. God will give us all the strength we need to play the game. May we call upon Him to give us the strength to battle the catfish in our tank.
May we let the struggle with that employee or the difficulty with our spouse or the tension with our teenager be a chance for us to display character and integrity. May we let God’s plans have their way in our lives. And may we trust that He really does know what He’s doing…
…catfish and all.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©
Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS