Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
In the northeastern United States, codfish are not only delectable, they are a big commercial business. There’s a market for eastern cod all over, especially in sections farthest removed from the northeast coastline. But the public demand posed a problem to the shippers. At first they froze the cod, then shipped them elsewhere, but the freeze took away much of the flavor. So they experimented with shipping them alive, in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, the cod still lost its flavor, and in addition, became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected.
Finally, some creative soul solved the problem in a most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy—the catfish. From the time the cod left the East Coast until it arrived in its westernmost destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank! And you guessed it, when the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected. If anything, it was better than before.
A couple of questions seem worth asking. First, can you name some catfish swimming in your tank? Maybe you live with one of them. Or it’s somebody at work whose irritating presence drives you to your knees several times a week. Every church has a few catfish as well! They’re there to keep all the cod from getting soft, mushy, and tasteless. Second, have you given thanks for them lately? Yesterday, we talked about God’s mission being to shape you into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Just think, it’s that tension in the tank that helps “the image” emerge. With the right attitude, we can learn how to keep from resenting them as intruders as the chase continues.
To do so we’ll need to put an end to pity parties and whine clubs and gripe gatherings in the tank. When we do, it is nothing short of remarkable how closely the chase begins to resemble “the race” mentioned in Hebrews 12 . . . but whoever heard of Hebrews 12 since Hebrews 11 is so much more popular? It’s one of those passages I told you I feel sorry for, one that is overshadowed by its neighbor.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s you I feel sorry for.
– Chuck Swindoll,
Insight for Living