I’ve never been one of those mothers who carefully pared the crust off the PBJ’s I served my children for lunch.
For well over 20 years now, I’ve been coaxing my kids to eat the crusts of their sandwiches using the following rationale:
- It’s wasteful to leave them and
- That’s where most of the vitamins are.
And for well over 20 years, my children have accepted my mother-wisdom at face value and at least feigned an attempt to cooperate with this imperative.
But not too long ago, a couple of my (young adult) children decided to question the validity of this claim.
“The crust is where the vitamins are?“ they repeated skeptically. “Seriously, Mom, that may be true of apple skins, but bread is bread. The entire loaf comes from a single batch of dough. The nutritional value is no different in the crust than it is in the middle.”
They’re smart kids. They’re also very articulate.
If you’d been sitting at our table that day, you might even have been inclined to agree with them….
But if you did, you would’ve been wrong, as they were. Fortunately, Siri was on my side for the ensuing debate.
I knew I’d read some relevant statistics on bread crust before, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and within seconds had located this article which summarily proved my point: Cancer-fighting anti-oxidants are eight times more plentiful in the crust than in any other part of the bread.
So what if bread crust is tough and chewy or hard to swallow? It’s good for you. It’s rich in dietary fiber and in nutrients that help your body grow healthy and strong.
That’s the reason I keep serving it to my children, and it’s the reason they (mostly) keep eating it.
Unfortunately, we sometimes approach life the way kids approach sandwiches. We prefer the soft and cushy parts. If we could leave those tough parts untouched on our plate — or if we could talk our Heavenly Father into trimming off anything that seems difficult to swallow — we’d do it.
I’m as guilty of this mindset as anyone. I’ve always prayed that God would teach me the lessons I need to learn in the easiest, most gentle way possible.
I’ve secretly hoped that if I stay attuned to His still small voice, God won’t have to shout through the megaphone of pain to get my attention.
But guess what? The tough trials, the hard challenges, the parts of life that make us lose our appetite — often those are the very things God uses to mature us, to strengthen our faith, and to nourish our relationship with Him.
And trials come no matter how intently we listen for His voice or read our Bibles or follow His promptings. We can avoid suffering unnecessarily by walking close with Him, but we can’t avoid suffering altogether.
Jesus told his followers, “In the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) — it’s not a question of if, but when, and how will we react when it comes?
Scripture tells us plainly how God expects us to respond. We are to:
- “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)-and-
- “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 1:2-4)
Perfect. Complete. Lacking in nothing.
That’s God’s goal for us.
So next time you find yourself in a tough season of life, don’t let it go to waste. Trust that your Heavenly Father has a purpose in putting that difficulty on your plate and accept it with gratitude, knowing there are things you can get out of the hard parts of life that cannot be found in any other way.
Just dip it in the pure milk of the Word to make it easier to swallow. (1 Peter 2:2)