I recently came across a recipe for the “fluffiest, biggest, best ever” pancakes. Of course, much to my husband’s dismay (he is not a pancake fan), I simply had to scratch down the recipe and test it out. I scanned through the ingredients to make sure everything was in order. Flour – check. Baking powder – typical. Milk – yep. Vinegar…what? This recipe called for two whopping tablespoons of white vinegar. In my opinion, the optimal pancake was sugary, sticky, and syrupy and didn’t come anywhere close to tasting like vinegar! Now this ingredient seemed ridiculous to me, so as I read through the comments on the website, I was shocked to discover that popular opinion insisted that it worked. In fact, without the vinegar, the pancakes would be rather flat and bland. As it turns out, the sour substance actually enhances the baking process and causes the batter to rise into a fluffy, delicious pancake.
I tried them. Yes, they really were some of the best pancakes I have ever had. A little bit of vinegar turned something ordinary into something better.
It seems life works in a similar fashion. Often times when “bitter” things come into our lives, we grow angry or upset. We despair at the situation rather than taking a moment to realize that perhaps it is for our betterment. Some of the finest Christians I know have been through some terribly dark times and the Lord used those terrible moments to give them a “better rise” and in the long run, they were able to use those trials as a tool to help others.
This concept reminds me of the story of Naomi. She had been dealt a good share of “vinegar” in her life. She lost her sons, her husband, and was living in poverty with her daughter-in-law. Her bitterness was so overwhelming that she changed her name to "Marah" which literally means "bitter"! The pancake recipe only calls for two tablespoons of vinegar mixed in, but if those were swallowed on their own it would be a large enough amount to make for an unpleasant taste. If you look further on in the book of Ruth, we discover just how those sour situations in Naomi’s life turned into something beautiful. She received a great blessing through her daughter-in-law Ruth’s marriage, son, and her family is traced to the lineage of Christ.
Ruth 4:14-16 says, "And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.”
My dear friend, next time you find yourself in a bitter situation, remember that the Lord’s hand is at work and He will mold and make you to be more like Him. As the Pastor of my church says, “No matter how bad things may get for the Christian, they can never get that bad.” Because we are bought with a price and children of the Heavenly Father, we can peer through the clouds of adversity and look forward to the sweetness of the refined product of our life through Him.
P.S. - On a more personal note, my husband and I leave tomorrow for a 4000 mile journey around our old stomping grounds! Please pray for safety in travels and that our vehicle will continue to chug along on God's grace! Also, if you would like the actual "vinegar pancakes" recipe, leave a message in the comment box and I will get it to you!