Stephen A. Peterson
In the Chavez home there had always been plenty of food to eat. At dinner, the table was heaped high with bowls of vegetables, platters of meats, and plates of different breads. Likewise, thee was a variety of some kind of dessert—mixed fruits, pie, puddings, cake or ice cream. In her 14 years of life, Rosa had never once known hunger. Her parents had provided for just about all of her material needs. However, this was about to change.
When Rosa became 16 years old, she got picky. She refused to eat certain foods because the food was too watery, too thick, and too greasy or the wrong color. Rosa even complained that some of the foods her mother spent hours preparing tasted and looked “gross” to her. Although her mother prepared the family meals with love and care, Rosa refused to eat as she did when she was younger. Her parents never insisted she clean her plate because she would throw a temper tantrum at the table. They wanted their family evening meals to be a peaceful, joyful experience for Rosa and the rest of the family. So the older Rosa became, the more spoiled and uncompromising she became.
On June 6, 2004, Rosa’s father came home from work with a concerned look on his face. The engineering firm he worked for more than 20 years had been sold to a larger company. As part of the new company’s restructuring effort, half of the old company’s employees were laid off which included Rosa’s father. Rosa’s mother id not work due to her disability.
At first, there was no concern. Rosa’s father felt reasonably certain that he would be able to find another engineering job at another firm at or just slightly below the $140,000.00 a year he earned in his old job. However, after two months of searching he soon discovered he was said to be overqualified by potential employers. Every agency he applied to wanted to hire younger workers. Within a year the family savings were soon gone and the family was forced to sell their house, a car and many of their valuables in order to survive then go on temporary assistance for needy families.
This was a terrible blow to Rosa, especially when she was forced to eat free lunches in the school’s cafeteria in front of her friends. At home, Rosa’s mother had to prepare and serve Rosa and the rest of the family government commodities and donated food as the family could not afford the fancy dishes that she had made before. Still, Rosa refused to eat most of the food put in front of her. Desperate, embarrassed and traumatized by the situation, Rosa got down on her knees in prayer. She prayed that God would find her father a job so that there would be plenty of food on the table again. But, at the same time, Rosa continued to refuse most of the food God had provided her and her family to eat.
One summer night, while Rosa was lying in her bed, her stomach began to hurt and make rumbling noises. She was so hungry that all, she could think about was eating. Around one o’clock in the morning, Rosa crawled out of bed and quietly crept downstairs to the kitchen. She opened the refrigerator door, but there was nothing except four eggs a half a carton of milk and a couple of slices of bread. Then she thought: “Daddy loves eggs and he has to go out and look for a job in the morning.” So she decided not to cook the eggs. So she went to the pantry and looked inside.
There were a few cans of mustard greens, pork and beans and spinach her mother had gotten the previous day from the local food bank. Yeeeeech! How she hated greens, beans and spinach. “I’d never eat those gross things again,” she had said to herself. “I ate those things years ago as a kid. They were gross then and they are gross now! Yeech!”
Twenty minutes passed. Now her stomach really began to hurt even more. Now Rosa was having second thoughts. “How bad can they be?” she thought to herself. “After all, other people eat them! She took a can of pork and beans off the shelf, opened it, emptied the contents in a sauce pan, and put it on the stove. Just as she was putting the pork and beans onto a plate, her father walked into the kitchen.
“What is this?” he said smiling. “Are you eating pork and beans, Princess?”
“Uh, huh,” Rosa answered sheepishly. “Do you want some, daddy?”
“Yes, I’ll have some but I want you to eat because I know you didn’t eat anything earlier and you must be very, very hungry.”
“Yes, I am, daddy,” she said as she got a second spoon.
After they had sat down at the table, the father gave thanks for the food that the Lord had given them. Then Rosa and her father ate together, off the same plate, until all the pork and beans were gone.
“You know, daddy,” she said, “they didn’t taste so bad. In fact, they were kinda good. Really, daddy!”
Her father nodded and smiled then hugged his daughter. “Rosa, when I was a little boy, my family went through some hard times, too. I remember what my father said to me when I refused to eat pinto bean soup—a dish I didn’t like to eat. My dad sat down with me and said, “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7—NIV). That verse, Rosa, has really helped me and your mother in these rough times we’re going through now. And I knew that all I had to do was wait, and it would help you, too, my beautiful daughter!” Then he smiled and said, “Now it appears I don’t have to wait any longer.”
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