His rubber-clad hands deftly stripped the juicy meat off the fish.
"Good catch?," I asked, eyeing up his prizes.
"Not bad," he responded, "caught by a guy this morning. There's about 16 pounds here in all."
The pile of carcasses along side the cutting table attested to this respectable victory of lure over fish.
I had no idea I would be observing a fish cleaning; no grand visions of flying fish guts filled my sight when I awoke that morning. However, I had awoken with a number of trials and tribulations that were continually nagging at me all day. Though these "sufferings" were nothing in comparison to the horrors in the daily experience of an Indian orphan or a war torn people, pain is pain, and though I feel for the suffering masses worldwide, these personal problems would not be silenced.
I've searched high and low for cures for suffering, and who hasn't? What logically reasoning soul hasn't sought a deeper explanation for pain the world over, not to mention in their own lives? What thinking human has never stared at the ceiling, wondering why evil and suffering have been allowed to permeate the air we breathe?
I have sought answers and cures; my questions have led me from the Psychiatrist's couch to the Philosopher's stone.
Never have a I sought a reason for personal suffering at a fish cleaning table...
I watched my friend adroitly cut and lift all the skin from the tender steaks that glistened with moisture. His hands never missed a beat; he held two conversations and still managed to expertly handle his fish.
It slowly began to dawn on me that one aspect of suffering, at least for a child of God, is a process with our best interest as the outcome. As we're walking through this life, we walk as strangers, pilgrims bound for a better place. But along the way, we tend to accumulate the things of this world, visitors that seem light and airy at first glance, but in the searchlight of Eternity, they prove themselves only to be heavy and bulky. Not the sort of freeloaders that are conducive for a Christian sized journey.
With each quick slice, I could see my Father taking away the things that I had accumulated, commenting with each stroke:
Hay. Forget it was ever there.
Stubble. Too invaluable for my child.
Even as I write, the pain of the removal process is still gripping me. It seems the world does nothing but take, take, take, almost driving the weary to the point of desperation. When we reach this point of hopelessness in the world, we can almost hear our Father say: "Give, Give, Give, for there is something that is worth far more than the gold of this world: your faith."
"Those are some pretty steaks," I commented as my friend bagged the remnants of the tuna.
"A lot better than when they arrived," he commented, and walked off.
I looked back into the drum containing the filleted fish.
"One reason for suffering," I said to my captive audience. "You never know what wisdom will come from the mouth of fishes. I'll bet you know a lot of secrets."
But they're not talking.
I'm sharing this on Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday.