A couple of weekends ago, my sister Michelle went to the store and brought home a box of scalloped potatoes to make for lunch. Normally, I love scalloped potatoes, but these were not good. I ate a few bites and then couldn’t finish. There was a spice on them that I couldn’t identify, and I felt sick. I read the label and found that they contained celery seed (I’m allergic to celery – Hence the bad taste) and they also contained soy flour (I’m severely allergic to soy protein which is what they make soy flour with – Hence the sick feeling).
That evening, we had friends over, and the husband was feeling sick from some medicine he had taken. He said he would be spending the following day in bed, so his wife asked us to join her at church the following day. We agreed. As it turned out, this church was in a movie theater, and they actually serve popcorn during services. For me, that was not a selling point, but for Michelle, a little bit of popcorn is a little piece of heaven. She was stoked.
However, I spent that night puking (from the celery), and the following morning, my face was so swollen (from the soy) that it looked like I had been beaten. There was no way I was going in public until the swelling went away. Obviously, I didn’t make it to church, but my sister did. When she got home, she told me how much she liked the preacher and she relayed a parable in his sermon to me. (Don’t worry; I’m not going to preach to you.) As it turned out, this preacher reminded her of me! This is exactly the kind of stuff I’m always telling her.
It seems there was this king, and he had a best friend. The two of them loved to go hunting together. While the king was a negative man, his best friend always found the good in every situation, and the king couldn’t understand why. One day, they went hunting, and the friend accidentally shot off the king’s left thumb.
Of course, the king was furious, and he had his friend thrown in jail. The friend apologized profusely and tried to tell the king that losing his thumb was actually a good thing, but that only made the king angrier. He told the guards that the friend would remain in jail for the rest of his life, and he never wanted to speak to his friend again.
The following year, the king went hunting by himself. But while he was out, he was captured by a band of Cannibals. The Cannibals tied the king to a tree and started boiling a large kettle of water over an open fire. As they waited for the water to boil, they told the king in no uncertain terms that they planned to eat him. When the water reached the boiling point, a couple of the natives held spears to the king’s throat while another untied him. That was when the native that was untying him noticed that the king was missing his left thumb.
The Cannibals’ eyes all grew large, and they finished untying the king and backed away. The confused king asked what was going on, and the natives told him that by their law, they were not allowed to eat anything that was not whole. In other words, his missing left thumb saved his life.
The king rushed back to his land and demanded that his friend be released from jail. He wept as he apologized to his friend, and he actually thanked him for shooting off his thumb. He told him that he should have accepted his apology and never put him in jail.
But the friend responded with, “No, you putting me in jail was a good thing. If you wouldn’t have imprisoned me, I’d have been out hunting with you, and the Cannibals would have eaten me!”
So that preacher reiterated to my sister exactly what I always tell her: that everything happens for a reason. And even though we might not always know the reason right away, it usually reveals itself if we’re patient.
Time to talk: Have you ever eaten popcorn in church? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? When bad things happen to you, do you immediately get upset, or do you ponder if there might be a greater good that can occur as a result?