My mom is a great cook. One of my favorite things she makes is chicken fried steak. When I used to help her cook, usually my job was to prepare the meat. I would lay the pieces of steak on a cutting board, and then I'd take the steak hammer and "pound, pound, pound...whack, whack, whack." Then I'd flip the piece of meat over and "pound, pound, pound...wham, wham, wham."
It's a noisy process, and it takes energy and arm muscle to keep pounding over and over again. But the result was that the meat would be tenderized. Eventually my mom would say, "That's enough." Then she would take the meat, cover it in flour, and fry it. Frankly, I think I had the harder job. =) But once the meal was ready, the hard work was worth it as we ate the tender steak.
If you've ever cooked a meal like this, I'm sure you'd agree that the difficult process is worth the delicious result.
Sometimes in life it's hard to see or remember that the difficult process will be worth the result.
For many months it felt like God had me in a process of what I'd call "tender-izing." Sometimes I felt like that piece of steak - with those little knobs on the steak hammer pounding here, there, and everywhere.
It hurts. It's hard. And when it finally feels like there might be a break, it's often just a pause before the pounding starts again on the other side.
Maybe you've felt like this too. Maybe you've wondered why things have been so hard for so long. Maybe you've questioned God's love for you. Maybe you've tried to run away from the "tender-izing."
If so, I want to encourage you and myself today. Our heavenly Father holds every tear we cry, He hears every prayer we speak or even think, and He gives us every breath we breathe.
God still loves us.
He still wants our best.
He is still in control of everything.
He still works all things for good.
There is a worthwhile result.
In the midst of the difficult process, I realized that the "tender-izing" actually had made my heart more tender.
In those moments when the pain would wash over me and tears flowed, I didn't think only of myself. I thought about others who were hurting. My heart filled with compassion for them. I prayed for them. I sent an encouraging message or let them know I was thinking of them. Somehow in the difficult process, in the midst of my own pain, God gave me more of His tender mercy for others.
And even when I cried out and told God how much it hurt, I knew that He understood. I knew that in the fellowship of Jesus' suffering, He was drawing me nearer to His heart. And I want to be close to Him. My heart longs to hear His voice, receive His comfort, experience His healing touch, and grow in intimacy with Him.
Maybe you prayed for a tender heart without knowing it might require a "tender-izing" process. No, the process isn't fun. It hurts. It's hard. But the result of a tender heart toward our Savior and others is beautifully worth it.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." -2 Corinthians 1:3-4