A Sweet Surprise Is Hidden Inside Your Worst Trial

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J. Lee Grady

Before you whine, complain or
throw a pity party, remember that God can bring something good out of something

I’m usually adventurous when it comes to
foreign food. But I was leery when I learned about a tropical fruit called durian during a trip to Indonesia. Three things made me
highly suspicious of this strange delicacy, which is sold in large quantities
on the streets of Jakarta.

First of all, durian looks absolutely
deadly. Each of the large, round fruits is covered with massive thorns that
stick out four inches or more. I’m sure if you threw one of these things at
somebody from a second-story window the victim would die instantly.

God even when everything in your flesh wants to quit. Be patient. When you
rejoice in adversity, the bitterness of life is replaced by the fragrance of

Second, when you cut open the tough skin
of a durian (Indonesian vendors will do this for you with a machete) you
discover a hideous-looking gray pulp that has the consistency of thick pudding.
Third, the odor of durian reminds me of garbage, dirty dishwater and spoiled
cantaloupe. It’s gross—and the scent is so nauseating that hotels in Indonesia
don’t allow the popular fruit on their premises.

Since I am a culinary risk-taker, I
decided to try durian when some guys from Apostolic Generation Church in
Jakarta took me to a wooden stall on the street. There a young man sold us a
durian and sliced it open. We sat at a crude sidewalk table and I braced myself
for the worst. I held my nose and then put a clump of the gray fruit in my

I expected to gag, but that wasn’t my
reaction. I couldn’t believe my taste buds! What looked ugly and smelled
revolting turned out to be both sweet and pungent. I became a durian convert.
On my last visit to Jakarta I even tried durian ice cream.

I also learned an important lesson. God
made durian, I believe, to teach us that there’s always something surprisingly
sweet hidden in the difficult trials we face.

Life throws thorny durians at us all the
time. Usually we try to avoid them. But the Bible tells us how to respond.
Peter wrote: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which
comes upon you for your testing … but to the degree that you share the
sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing” (1 Pet. 4:12-13, NASB).

The apostle Paul had the same strategy.
His letter to the Philippians is called “the epistle of joy” because the words
“joy” or “rejoice” appear in it 16 times. It is in this letter that Paul wrote:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4). Yet he penned
this epistle while he was chained inside a Roman prison.

Like the durian fruit, Paul’s jail cell
looked and smelled horrible. Scholars say the dungeon probably reeked of human
waste and death itself, since prisoners often died of starvation or disease.
Yet amid that dank, mildew-stained cell Paul found something sweet. The sustaining
presence of Christ gave him words that still comfort us 2,000 years later.

Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom spent
many months in a German concentration camp in the 1940s. She experienced
unimaginable suffering in the lice-infested barracks of Ravensbrook. Yet Corrie
learned to praise God—and in that hell on earth she found her life’s message:
“There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Your situation may look thorny and
menacing like a durian—maybe even deadly—or it may just stink. But you must
realize that God allows trials to mold our character, crush our pride and break
our hard, outward shell so the Holy Spirit can flow through us to touch others.

If you’re in a tough place these days
(most people I know are), learn the secret of durian. Don’t run from your
trials, and don’t whine, gripe and whimper about them like a spiritual
adolescent. This is your chance to grow up. Praise God even when everything in
your flesh wants to quit. Be patient. You’ll eventually find a sweet surprise
inside your trial. When you rejoice in adversity, the bitterness of life is
replaced by the fragrance of Christ. There is pain in this process, but you’ll
savor the final result.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. This week he is ministering at
Christ for the Nations in Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

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