A year or so God gave me this verse to share during church one Sunday:
"When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.
Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain.
All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent."
God gave me an interpretation of this verse for someone else that day, but today I'm holding onto it for us. The point of the verse is that in order to use spices they must be harvested and crushed, and it's not a gentle process.
Some spices are crushed very hard, using carts. Some are beaten. Some are ground. Each spice has its own method of releasing its fragrance and taste.
Each of us is a spice, if we choose, to be used by God to make life more flavorful. Some of us are ground, some of us are crushed. But if we resist our crushing, we can't be used, with the hard husk attached, spices are useless. But God knows what type of spice we are and He knows exactly what we need in order to become fragrant and useful.
He will not thresh caraway with a sledge, but it is beaten with a rod. He will be more gentle with the cumin. But if the caraway looks at the cumin it might be tempted to ask, "Why do I have to have life so hard? Why is God being so hard and unfair to me?"
He knows what spice we are. He knows exactly how little or how much threshing it will take to make us precious and useable and fragrant. He knows that it is a painful process but He sees the amazing results in advance.
As for us Bumsteads, we will choose to be threshed in whatever ways God sees as right. We trust Him because we know Him. We know that He has a plan in all of this to make our lives pleasing to Him, and fragrant to those close to us.
And the good news is that even when we are empty of endurance, courage or strength for the process, God himself will provide everything we need to become what he intended us to be.