When Life Gives You Hard Bread

A few weeks ago, the Lord provided us with some free food.  The food had just passed or was very near its expiration date, meaning it could no longer be sold, so it was donated to a local church (the very church at whose college I teach).  Coincidence?  What do you think?  We were able to bring home some nice produce in the way of squash, asparagus and spinach, as well as three loaves of wholesome bread.  Knowing we couldn't eat all the bread before it went bad, I did what I usually do when I buy an excess of discounted bread--I put it in the freezer.

Yesterday morning, I removed the loaf of pumpernickel from the freezer and set it on the counter to defrost so we could have it along with the pot of chili I had cooking in the crock pot.  Unfortunately, many hours later, the bread felt just as hard as it did when I had first removed it from the freezer.  It was thawed, but it was far from soft.  I've held baseball bats that had more give than this loaf of bread.  I have no idea what happened.  I don't know if the bread was already stale when I froze it, or if pumpernickel is not an ideal bread for freezing.  I just don't know.  All I know is that we had tortilla chips and crackers with our chili for fear of breaking our teeth on the pumpernickel.  (FYI, the dogs love it, so we're saving it as dog treats.)

As I lamented over my brick-like bread, a couple of thoughts passed through my mind.  First off, being the week of Thanksgiving, I was reminded that unthankful people become just like that loaf of bread--hard, brittle and unmoving.  Gratitude ought not be an obligation but a delight.  No matter who we are and what circumstances we may find ourselves in, we all have so much to be thankful for.  But when we're overcome with discontentment, we lose sight of what we have and focus only on what we don't have.  In the process, our gratitude disappears.  And before long, we find that our hearts have become bitter, our spirits brittle and our minds unmoving.  What a sad fate!  I, for one, do not want to be like that loaf of pumpernickel.  I want to remain thankful, tender-hearted and moved with compassion for others.

The second thought came from something Jason said.  As we tried to saw through the bread to see if the inside was as tough as the outside (no, we didn't need the chainsaw), Jason commented, "It'd make great croutons."  What a wonderful outlook!  Where I saw a flaw, Jason saw an opportunity.  Hard bread?  No big deal.  Make croutons.  Whether life is handing us lemons or hard bread, it's up to us what we do with them.  We can fuss and complain about the unfairness of life.  We can pout and give up, arguing that nothing ever works out the way we want it to.  Or we can figure out how to turn the trial into a triumph.  (In case you're wondering, option #3 is the correct answer.)

Is life always fair?  Absolutely not.  Do we sometimes have to face situations that we'd rather run from?  Definitely.  But in the midst of it all, is God still good?  Unmistakably.  Is Romans 8:28 still true?  No doubt.  Then what's the problem?

By the way, last night we finalized plans for our Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.  Guess who's bringing the salad!  And won't those croutons add the nicest touch. . .if the dogs don't eat it all before Thursday.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 5:20