Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it.
She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.
He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited wondering what he was doing.
After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the boiled eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. ‘Daughter, what do you see?’
‘Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,’ she hastily replied.
‘Look closer,’ he said, ‘and touch the potatoes.’ She did and noted that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face. ‘Father, what does this mean?’ she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity – the boiling water.
However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
‘Which are you,’ he asked his daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?’
Living out the virtue of Christian hope when confronted with adversity that we cannot control or overcome, allows us to dig deep to unearth a level of confident patience and perseverance that will sustain us.
It can also give us the courage to resist, challenge and triumph over adversity and so circumstances that seem hopeless to some people will seem less so to those living in accordance with this virtue.
This is because as Christians, death no longer needs to be considered as the moment of our annihilation and similarly, in moments of crisis and adversity we can come to know that we are held by a love that is stronger even than death itself.
Very much in line with the famous adage of mystic Julian of Norwich – “All will be well” – Christians have the ability to remain joyful in all circumstances, however difficult, because of their knowledge that God gently guides history and cares in an intimate way about us.
Our opportunity, is to deepen trust, that our lives are safe in God’s hands, that God has a plan for us all, calling us out of darkness into his wonderful light.