“But I don’t want to eat it,” whispered my younger self to my dad who was sitting next to me. On my lap sat a bowl of the later branded ‘chicken poop soup’ in all its grotesque congealed glory. The chunks of chicken intestine were not cleaned, so paired with the cooked feces, it radiated a wretched odor.
“You have to,” dad whispered back, spooning some for himself. “It would be disrespectful not to eat it.”
We were eating lunch with a man who lived in the bush of South Sudan, and being fresh onto the field, we weren’t accustomed to the local traditions, or the food. We had walked down a long, mostly uninhabited trail to reach his hut. Chickens, pigs, geese, and dogs ran around the barren ground surrounding the plastered mud hut, and we sat among the chaos with our host. My brothers, Joshua and Elijah, were also eyeing their soup warily.
What a Bowl Of Soup Taught Me About Obedience
I didn’t catch the deeper lesson in the soup incident at such an early age, but I see it now. Christ talked about the blind faith of children, and it specifically applies to us as Christ-followers. I ate the soup out of obedience to my father, and only now years later realize what it taught me.
We don’t know God’s plan, but we follow what He tells us through His Word and the Holy Spirit. We walk by faith, trusting God every step of the way. And as we do, God places us where we are for a purpose.
Every story is different, but the principle of obedience in the hard things remains the same. You could be struggling through sickness, working hard on what feels like an impossible class at school, or a kid who has to eat poop soup. God placed you there in that moment, whatever it may be. Paul says in Colossians 3:17 that whatever we do and wherever we are placed, we must do our best for Christ, and give thanks to God for it! He gives us peace to do the work He has for us, wherever it is and however hard it may be.
We often must do things we don’t want to do. Especially as Christians, there’s a constant struggle with our flesh over what needs to be done (no matter how hard it is), and what you want to do (such as pour out the soup).
At times, the hardships are damaging. When we lose a loved one or have friends walk away because we stood up for what was right, the trials can feel overwhelming. But when it seems the hardest to keep going, remembering that growth comes through trials is important. If we never had trials, then we would never grow in our relationship with Christ or discover His ultimate purpose for us.
God doesn’t call us to do easy things. He uses trials and hardships to grow us and asks us to lay our lives on the line for Him daily. Philippians 1:29 says, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…” In 2nd Corinthians 5:15, Paul reinforces what he says in Philippians, “and He died for us all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
We All Need to “Eat the Soup”
I learned that day with the soup not only what I could force past my gag reflex, but also that we must eat the chicken poop soup so to speak, even through tears, and do the hard thing.
Even though these hardships are tough, they are meant to grow us, and that is how we grow in Christ. And through them, we give glory to God. James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Even though I ate the soup, that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. Even now, picking countless bugs from my plate is a daily occurrence. When Christ came down, He asked God to remove the burden from Him. But after being denied, He said, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
Our response to life, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, should be this: Not our will be done, but the Father’s.
“Strive to choose, not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult. Do not deprive your soul of the agility which it needs to mount up to Him.”- Saint John of the Cross