Bitter yet sweet

He who is full loathes honey,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet

Prov 27:7

I stumbled upon this verse a month ago, and somehow it intrigued me. Reading it superficially, it seems to describe an often-seen physical phenomenon accurately – when you are full, the best dessert (think molten lava cake) is unappealing to you, yet when you are hungry, the plainest dish or what you had thought to be unappetizing (like slimy brinjal or lady’s finger) can be so satisfying.

Actually, I thought the latter observation was rather ‘sad’. The phrase that had immediately emerged in my mind was 饥不择食 – beggars can’t be choosers. Somehow, the older I get, the stronger I feel that we all have choices. It’s just a matter of whether the options are painful or pleasant, desirable or detestable. To settle with an undesirable option seems most disdainful to me. If I have to ‘take it or leave it’, I would rather leave it. (OK, I’m proud and stubborn.)

Yet some recent revelations taught me that the bitterness in life or the seemingly unpleasant choices can be redeemed by God. He displayed this after He led the Israelites out of Egypt, parting the Red Sea for His people, who later arrived in the Desert of Shur (Exo 15:22-26). The water in the area of Marah was bitter and the Israelites, unable to drink it, complained, forgetting almost immediately God’s goodness and power displayed earlier. But God made the water sweet, and revealed Himself to be the God who Heals (Jehovah Rapha). And recalling a recent corporate testimony, I was very touched to hear how God redeemed the most tragic events in one’s life to bring about transformation and growth. I guess no one would have seen it coming or dared to declare when tragedy struck that God has a good plan in all the sadness that the sibling had to go through then. But now, we have the gift of hindsight and clear sight to see the glory of God even in the midst of suffering.

Truly, life has its moments of bitterness, yet God can make every bitter thing sweet.

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