When my oldest son was a baby, he had a love-hate relationship with bananas. Sitting in his high chair, his little body would wiggle and giggle at the prospect of holding that sweet golden treat with his chubby fingers. Teasing a bit, I would slowly peel the banana and encourage his anticipatory delight. Feet kicking, arms waving, my little cherub reached out to grab the prize only to realize a great disappointment. Banana’s break. Although his hands were tiny, a humble banana could not withstand the pressure of my son’s greedy grip. The banana broke. This was a trial he could not endure. His once joyful countenance, only seconds before, turned to wailing. The disappointment is complete. This fit was an emotional explosion of a human who hasn’t yet learned how to cope with the world not being as he imagines it should be. The irony is, that his imagination is only that: imagination. Life includes trials.
This life lesson stayed within our family as we raised our children. Through the years, when trials came to our household, ultimately, someone would say, “Well, bananas break!” There is sound wisdom in recognizing this principle as truth. We live in a broken world where things break: relationships, health, hearts, worldviews, roles, hope…they all break at some point. Jesus told us to expect it (Jn. 16:33). Peter teaches us “not to be surprised” by it (1 Peter 4:12). James instructs us to “count it all joy” when we face them (James 1:2-8). And David declares that the Lord will comfort our broken hearts and crushed spirits as we endure them (Ps. 34:17-18).
I can only guess as to why, as a young woman, I began reading stories of missionaries and those who have suffered mightily for the kingdom. Early on, I knew I wanted to prepare for the inevitability of life’s inconsistent, unpredictable, and seemingly unjust trials. But sometimes, sometimes…a trial comes out of the blue and gives you a good sucker punch. Sometimes, the hit is so hard it takes, at least initially, the prayers out of your lungs. We are bruised and bloody.
We had one such family gut-punch this week, and today, I am sore. I am weary and wounded and a little cross, if I’m honest. Maybe you are here this week, too. Perhaps you, as a helper needing to be strong for others, are also struggling personally, unable to pray but only offer, as Lilias Trotter suggests, a “dumb crying up to the skies of brass.” CS Lewis then recommends we should not “weep inwardly and get a sore throat. If [we] must weep, weep a good honest howl. I suspect we…don’t cry enough nowadays.” In this, the Lord reminds me that bananas do, in fact, break, and I do not yet live in Heaven. As a child, we learn this, and as an adult, we know it, but some trials do come to pass that utterly surprise us. In this season, Spurgeon speaks by encouraging us as a dear friend, “When grief presses you to the dust, worship there.” And my soul is restored.