We live in a world of tragedy and suffering and we all want to find solutions. Sometimes in the midst of a trial we may wonder where God is at such times, and if there is any hope for the future.
A young woman went to her mother and told her just how tough life was. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three saucepans with water and placed each on a ring on the stove and turned up the heat. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed some ground coffee beans. Soon the three saucepans came to boil. She adjusted the heat and allowed them to sit and boil.
She came and sat down but said nothing to her daughter. In about twenty minutes she got up and turned off the stove. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the egg inside was hard boiled.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled and said, "This is nice coffee." The daughter then asked, "Mum, what does all this mean?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. But each had reacted differently.
The carrot went into the water hard and quite strong. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After being exposed to the boiling water, they actually had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
I got to thinking about this analogy that the mother used and I had to ask myself.
Am I like the carrot that seems strong, but when adversity comes do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I like the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? When faced with a difficult trial – do I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter with a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it released the fragrance and flavour in the coffee bean.
When the hour is darkest and trial is at its greatest, how do we handle the adversity? Are we a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
There is no question about the fact that we all experience trials and tests in our Christian life. How we deal with those trials and tests is important.
The story of the carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean is simply an analogy, a story to help us remember a basic principle of life.
Because of our personalities, our temperaments, our background and training, we deal with trials differently. We may be more like the carrot. We may be more like the egg. We may be more like the coffee bean. Some find any trial just hard to deal with. Some find trials so difficult it damages their happiness and spirit to live. Yet others are more able to cope with the trials and turn lemons into lemonade.
But there is a single great deficiency in the story of the carrot, the egg and the coffee bean. There is no mention of the cook standing in the kitchen watching the water boil. That cook, not mentioned in the analogy, is our Saviour Jesus Christ.
If we use the analogy of the carrot, the egg and the coffee bean in the boiling water, and Jesus as the cook -- He knows when the heat is becoming too much and he will turn off the stove so we are not destroyed. Yes, there will be heat – it will be uncomfortable – but God has said that He is faithful and will not allow us to be tried beyond our ability to endure it.
Sometimes we think God has gone off somewhere and forgotten us. But the Scriptures assure us that God is intimately involved in our lives all the time and His timing to help resolve our difficulties and trials is perfect.
Christ will not allow the water to boil endlessly so that we are destroyed to the point of discouragement and we give up. Christ carefully monitors our progress in dealing with the trials and tests that come upon us.
So the next time we are in the kitchen and perhaps we are preparing to cook carrots for dinner, or boiling some eggs, or bringing some coffee to the boil, remember -- it doesn't matter if we are more like the carrot, or if we are more like the egg, or if we are more like the coffee bean. The true cook, Jesus Christ, is in the kitchen making sure we will not be tried beyond what we are able to endure.
That's a wonderful promise to remember. We are of great value to God.