It was the cactus bread. I cannot resist it—that warm, gooey, brown sugary goodness drizzled with icing that melts like golden sunshine in your mouth. I may or may not have eaten three slices, with ice cream on the side, and not real ice cream but soft serve, which we all know is really more like plastic than cream.
Plus a 20-ounce glass of sweet green tea. Just to wash down the two plates full of cheesy deep dish pizza I’d consumed prior to the cactus bread.
Yesterday my family went to our local pizza buffet restaurant, not because we’d planned to eat all-we-could-eat on a random Monday evening but because our ten-year-old begged. Our school was hosting a fundraiser; 20 percent of the restaurant proceeds went toward the eighth grade year-end trip to St. Louis. We don’t have kids in eighth grade. But it’s a small school. We’re like family. We love the eighth graders. We love the parents of the eighth graders. Of course we wanted to support them. We did it for the kids, okay, people? For the children!!
And let me just tell you. I suffered for the cause.
After a boatload of pizza, cactus bread, and syrupy sweet tea, I crawled into bed last night with a stomachache of near-puking proportions. I haven’t felt like that in—no exaggeration—years.
If you’ve been hanging with me for any length of time now, then you may know my issues with food. I love food—but it does not love me. I’ve been through test after test and treatment upon treatment for what I can only call miserable gut syndrome. I have a bad digestive system. My body is particularly unable to process sugar. And carbs. And all things pizza / soft serve / cactus bread. I know this. Typically I stick to a restricted diet and take supplements to keep symptoms under control. It’s just my cross to bear.
But sometimes I want to be like other people, you know? Normal people. So I toss my cross on the curb and pretend like I don’t own it. And I do stupid stuff like eat three slices of cactus bread. And pizza crust. And olives and tomatoes and a few other things on my personal list of inflammatory no-no’s.
And the consequences settle deep in my belly. Literally.
Do you ever do that? Do you ever pretend like your issues aren’t really your issues, and you ignore them for a while and do something that only makes them worse? Because you’re so tired of being handcuffed by your limitations, right? And for once you just want to be like all those other people who don’t have to suffer like you do.
Except. We forget. Everybody suffers somehow. Everybody has problems, struggles, quirks and singularities—whether food allergies or addictions or disabilities or fears, whatever. Everybody has something.
And we’re not supposed to ignore our somethings. We’re supposed to own them. Why?
Ah, that’s the twist. We don’t own our troubles so we can hold onto them and wallow in misery. No. We own them so we can give them away.
“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22, NASB).
I know my trouble with food. I know my trouble with fear and anxiety, too. I know my trouble with impatience and snapping and wishing somebody else would dust the living room so I don’t have to. I’ve got lots of issues. And I’ll bet you do, too. That doesn’t make us weird. It makes us all normal.
So let’s do this together. Acknowledge your issues, don’t ignore them. And don’t let them define you, either. Instead, let’s bring them to God and lay them at His feet. Seek His Word for wisdom on how to manage. Which means, please, do not feed your issues three slices of cactus bread (plus ice cream). It only makes them more unbearable.
Let’s treat our troubles kindly.
It’s counterintuitive, I know. But our God often is. Do you realize what happens when we acknowledge our problems and give them to God? The Bible says He rescues us—in a thousand different ways, perhaps, and maybe not as we expect, yet still a rescue is a rescue. And then, best of all, we’ll discover that the rescue is not actually the end of the story.
“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” (Psalm 50:14–15, NLT, emphasis added).
Could it be our problems are not really about us at all? When we embrace them and lift them up to God, He takes them. He saves us from them in some form or fashion. And as a result, we—little faulty humans that we are—give God glory.
How awesome is that?
So next time I want to complain about having to forego a slice of pizza or a piece of cake, maybe I ought to praise God instead. I can choose to thank Him for my tummy issues. Maybe I’ll even dare to see them as a gift.
A sacrifice I make to God.
It’s a beautiful system, really, isn’t it? We want to shed our burdens. And God wants to wear them.
So what’s stopping you?
Hand ‘em over.
And next time my kids beg for the pizza buffet, just saying, I think I’ll stick to the salad bar. That cactus bread is mighty tasty, yes it is. But it’s nowhere near as delicious as glory.