How many of us have ever had the following experience?
You go to the grocery store and get to the produce area. You see lots of great-looking produce, but you hone in on something that looks especially good — oranges, for example.
You pick one up and feel that its weight and size are pleasing. It smells amazing, and you cannot wait to get it home and take a big bite. So, you buy it.
All the way home you are thinking about how good that orange is going to be.
You get home, and you unpack your groceries and put them away. Then, you grab that orange, sit down in front of the television, and start peeling. You pull a nice, big slice off and push the entire thing in your mouth, expecting the sweet gush of juice.
Instead…you get a mouthful of bitterness. It’s not sweet at all — your disappointment knows no bounds — but you finish it anyway. After all, you paid for it! You don’t want to waste it, and it does have vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. It will do you good after all is said and done, even if it doesn’t taste fantastic…
Growth in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) can be like that. Sometimes we grow through and because of trials (James 1:3, Romans 8:28). The trials and sufferings of this life don’t always taste good, are not pleasant, and can be downright bitter!
Last year, when my husband began his pulpit ministry in our new church home in Utah, my daughter went to live in Texas. My only daughter was all of 19 years old. I was scared. How would I help her? What if she got sick? What if she couldn’t pay for her groceries? She was living in a college town. What if something really bad happened?
Bitter Fruit’s Sweet Result
If we trust God has our best in mind when we go through trials (Romans 8:28), we must also trust Him for the outcome and wait on Him. God used that time when my daughter moved away — a hard time that didn’t go down easily — to grow me. He taught me how to trust Him more fully, to rely on His judgment and His plan even if I didn’t know the plan. Even if it was a hard plan, my best and my daughter’s best were what He had in mind. My husband could see me growing in peace and patience, both fruit of the Spirit.
Even when growing in the fruit of the Spirit is unpleasant and does not go down easily, we know it is what is best for us, for our growth, and for conforming us to the image of Christ. We know it is best because God has called us to salvation and to a greater purpose than the temporal feel-goods of this earth.
The next time the fruit isn’t quite what you expected, be thankful for what God will do with it in areas you may not see immediately!