Every Sunday morning during worship, we do a kids’ focus time called, Sermon in the Sack. Well, that’s what I call it. I’ve heard rumors others refer to it as “Stump the Pastor.”
Each week someone provides me with an item carefully hidden in a paper bag that I am given a few minutes to ponder before I present a spiritual/biblical lesson about to the children.
Yesterday I opened the bag as I was calling the children to the front.
Now let me preface what comes next by saying I’m not a cook. I love cooking shows. Dream of being able to make meals that amaze my family and friends. But they all know better: I’m a kitchen dunce and disaster.
So I opened the bag and found a garlic press. I’m not going to lie: I was impressed I even knew what it was. I knew immediately what direction I was going to go.
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, seeks to encourage the people who are going through persecution. He uses his own series of trials and times in prison as an example for them. He tells them:
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (NIV).
And it occurred to me that I’m a little like garlic. I’m not useful if I remain in the bulb. I only make a difference when my outer shell is peeled away and I’m pulverized. The lessons I learn through life’s crushing experiences become the moments when grace and mercy shine through.
It’s not difficult to follow God and trust in his provision when things are sunny and going well—what about the times of shadow and storm? What about the times when pain is great and confusing, and the future is terrifying with its uncertainty?
Hold on weary one. No matter what happens, no matter how dark the night, no matter how crushing the thing is you’re going through: you are not abandoned, nor will you be destroyed.