Inevitably, life will become challenging at some point. Circumstance will smack us across the face with an uppercut, a left hook, or a coup de grâce. When this happens, we have to make a choice: Do we want to be a carrot or an egg?
Let me explain.
Place an egg in boiling water and its insides turn hard. On the other hand, place a carrot in the same boiling water and it becomes soft1. The boiling water represents our challenges.
Life’s tempests can harden one person but soften another.
In other words, will we allow our circumstances to make us soft? Will we grow in love and empathy towards others? Will we allow the pain to shape us into the image of Christ? Or, will we allow trials bury us and make our hearts hard towards God and others?
Do you want to be a carrot or an egg?
Choosing to be a carrot means that we will allow our suffering to produce greater love in us. This is God’s way. I think of Romans 5 and James 1:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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” (vv. 3-5).
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (vv.2-4).
Diamonds have an attractive beauty. Yet their shimmering nature and expensive cost are only formed by insatiable pressure in high heat for long periods of time. One supported theory is that diamonds can actually be created by the massive impact of asteroids hitting the earth surface2.
I can’t think of a better metaphor for life. Maybe the precious jewels of our relationship with God and our character are forged when our own personal skies fall?
Storms will come. We all know this. Jesus states that the Father “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). In fact, during his Sermon on Mount, the Lord promises us trials.
We can sing in the rain but it can’t be done in human strength. The new way for the Christian is life in the spirit. This is why Jesus’ summary is the following:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (vv. 24-25).
No matter what happens to us, our foundation must be Christ.
To use another metaphor, think of the benefits of wildfires. Sure, they bring mass destruction, but much good arises from the aftermath. I read that wildfires “are a natural and necessary part of the ecosystem. Even healthy forests contain dead trees and decaying plant matter; when a fire turns them to ashes, nutrients return to the soil instead of remaining captive in old vegetation. Fire…eliminates diseases or droves of insects that may have been causing damage to old growth. Wildflowers begin to bloom abundantly3.”
What a beautiful picture in how God works. Beauty in ashes. Whether you’re in a storm, a wildfire, or an asteroid just rocked your world, it’s important to put your hope in Christ and allow the circumstances to form you like Jesus.
Be a carrot. Let the hot water soften you and don’t become hard. And look for the wildflowers amidst your ashes.
- This idea of the egg and carrot originated from my late mentor, Dr. Timothy Nelson