This can’t get any worse, Beth thought miserably to herself. These trials assaulting her from every side seemed to be intensifying despite -or maybe because-of her many heartfelt cries to the Lord. Her son was gone, rejecting God and all the values she had instilled in him since birth, and family members were angry because …Well, who knew anymore? She lost track in the midst of the constant bickering that never quite ended when it came to her siblings. Friends that she shared sweet fellowship with were nowhere to be found. The phone that once rang for prayer requests now sat strangely silent, reminding her with aching clarity that she had no one but the Lord to lean on in this trying time.
And even he seemed oddly mute in the matter.
Brushing the tears from her eyes, she made her way to the kitchen where she opened the refrigerator to scout for something to eat. No that she was hungry but the hollow pit in her stomach insisted she fill it with something besides coffee. Her one hearty appetite had plummeted to an unhealthy level ever since her warfare began. How could she eat when she could barely raise her head? The only thing she had been able to swallow lately was the bitter disappointment that came with each passing day.
With a heavy sigh, she extracted an egg and set it on the counter. She would have a boiled egg. That was better than nothing.
As the egg rolled on the tiled surface, she noticed with a frown that it had a tiny crack along the outer shell. Just a minor flaw, barely discernable, but enough to cause the contents to leak. Leaning over to touch it, her finger came away slightly wet. So thin was the shell that the precious fluids inside had begun to seep through.
Just like you, a voice whispered in her ear. Soft and vulnerable inside, covered with a thin shell of humanity. Breakable.
Discarding the disturbing thought, Beth picked up the egg and set it in a small pot. She filled it with water and proceeded to place it on the stove’s burner. With a quick turn of a knob, fire appeared under the pot, intense and hot.
Like your trials, the patient voice went on to explain. If cushioned with the water of my word, they’ll harden your outward shell so that the next time, you won’t break so easily.
Tears burned behind Beth’s eyes even as she lowered the heat to a medium setting.
And just like you, I know how much heat you can handle, the voice assured her with gentle confidence. But don’t forget, I just want the outer shell hard but not the inside. The inside, where your heart resides, must stay soft. Malleable in my hand.
Hard and soft, Beth repeated to herself as a torrent of tears cascaded down her face. She understood now. Closing her eyes at the lingering presence of God, she offered one final prayer.
“Thank you, Lord, for the heat.”
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