Ever have days where you feel like you've gone through a coffee grinder? I have had a few of those....well a lot of those days in my lifetime. I'm guessing you have as well. Those days that just obliterate and mash our brains into dust are not welcomed but often come none the less. Have you had days like this recently? If so, good! Wait. What? I just heard you say that. Ha. Ha. You are correct. I did say "good".
Have you ever considered the coffee bean? Weird question; I know. Really though, have you thought about it much? If you like coffee or know someone who likes the stuff then you know we have an interesting relationship with the coffee bean. While I am no Juan Valdez, I do think I understand the coffee bean pretty well. I mean, I know they are green, then brown, then roasted to darken and flavor them. (I think.) All this to say the coffee bean isn't real helpful to those of us who savor coffee until they are put through great duress.
* First they are plucked off the tree.
* They are bagged and shipped all around the world.
* Cleaned, dried, and roasted per levels of flavor and richness.
* Bagged again and placed on your store shelves.
Here is where the real work begins for our coffee beans. There is nothing more intoxicating for me than to open a bag of dark-roast coffee beans and smell that aroma wafting up into my nose. (*shudder*) Just got goose bumps thinking of that wonderful smell of coffee beans. Sorry. Okay, I'm not sorry.
In order for coffee lovers to enjoy the savory taste of Juan Valdez's beans, they must be ground into small pieces. But wait, there's more! They then must be introduced to water that has been heated to at least 180-190 degrees. Consider the coffee bean grinder that reduces the beans to almost dust for drip makers or larger chunks for French press makers. What was once a bean intact and quit useless is now moving toward a more useful product as the metal blades shred the beans.
Our coffee maker instructions point out their coffee maker introduces the ground coffee to water that has been heated to a minimum of 185 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes water that hot to release the oils and flavor in those ground beans that once were hanging on a tree and as green as grass. Without shredding and scalding those coffee beans just smell good but offer little in the way of drinking enjoyment.
Christians who reserve their lives to only be seen and not used or heard are much like coffee beans that never submit to grinding and scalding in order to release their fragrant aroma to the world in which they live. Sort of pointless to say yes to Jesus then remain cloistered in a church building or worse yet never darken the doors of said church.
No, in fact, if we are committed followers of Jesus we should expect, welcome, and embrace the notion that our lives will be pain-filled at times. There will be hot water to navigate. Our faith, though offered to us by God, needs to be tried and tested to see if it is genuine. Without testing then faith might remain a solid coffee bean that has potential but never gets to release the rich aroma and flavor for which it was created and designed to offer. It is in the way we encounter and react to trials in our life that either reflect Christ who walked to his death never uttering complaints or the thief who groaned and hurled insults even as he died.
(Our French coffee press with extremely hot water and coffee grounds in it steeping!) YUM!
Paul in 2 Timothy offered his current state of brokenness and thought well enough of his condition to celebrate it. How often are we able to say, "I have been ground up and scalded for Jesus and I am soooooo happy about it."? Take a look at the text.
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I
have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me
the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—
and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV)
You see it isn't practical to think or believe that we will experience Christian living that is untouched by suffering and pain. It isn't reality to think such things. There are no special fairies to guard us and we don't ride on unicorns. We exist in a world that wants to grind us up and burn us down. It is in this coffee grinder of chaos that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit reside in order to produce a fragrant flavor of faithfulness and humility out of our suffering. Take heart friends! To those who hold fast to their faith and trust the power of Jesus Christ to deliver them in their time of trial there will be a crown of glory awaiting them. Are you one of them? I hope so.
A Musing Pastor