My son swirls my crystal Riedel wine glass and drinks in the aroma. “How can something that smells so good, taste so bad” he inquires.
“It is an acquired taste son” I reply.
“Why would I want to acquire a taste for something that isn’t good?”
I didn’t try to explain, because I don’t want my kids to drink alcohol. But when you think about it, there are many things that seem bitter on the surface but bring about our greatest satisfaction. There is so much good that comes in the bitter.
I think deep down we are more complex than the surface childlike satisfaction we once found easily. As we mature, satisfaction is more allusive and when achieved, harder to describe. It becomes more individual, as it’s complexity is received a little differently by each recipient.
On a spiritual level it goes back to what we know about God. In Romans 8:28 he promises to turn all things to good for those who believe, and it is always an inspiration when we hear testimonies of the good that has come through the bitter.
Most of us have experienced it in some form:
- a young woman struggles to conceive, springs forth tears of happiness, when the cry of her child entering the world, after 20 difficult hours of labor, occurs.
- the dancer’s heart skips a beat from anticipation as she slips the ballet shoe over her torn, raw, bandaged foot before walking out on stage to debut in the American Ballet Theater
- she put pen to paper for four tumultuous years, through creative blocks and editor’s redlines, to finally arrive on the NY Times Bestseller’s list
- all of his savings, more late nights than he could have imagined, rejection after rejection, and he finally landed his first substantial account in his new business
God doesn’t promise us easy. Actually, He tells us that we will suffer in this world. He does promise us joy and peace that is from Him alone, as it doesn’t match the circumstances of this place.
The world is ripe with opportunity for good in the bitter.
As I sip my coffee this morning, dark and black as ink, just the way I like it, I consider it. I find comfort in beginning my day with the rich, fragrance of ground beans permeating the house, as I prepare to sit and sip, and read and write.
I wonder how I can anticipate the earthy dirt flavor of black coffee like it was chocolate syrup lacing my tongue. Somehow it is better. It enters hot and changes characteristics of flavor and viscosity as it cools and seeps down my throat. The complexity is what delights. It is the good beyond the bitter that stimulates the anticipation and deepens the satisfaction.
When we are young we want easy and good. We want fun and delight without sacrifice and hard work. As we mature, we take what is easy for granted. It doesn’t have as much meaning or purpose. What gives us the most satisfaction, the deepest joy, the most incredible peace……
…it is, most often, the good in the bitter.