Today Pastor Sean spoke about Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, and the joy one can find in work, when one lives to please God, versus the futility that unbelievers find in their work. He pointed out that it has nothing to do with the type of work, or whether it is difficult or frustrating, or whether one is able to even finish it. Last week covered some of the same topic, during which, by way of example, cooking with home-grown, home-butchered, home-combined ingredients on a wood fired stove in Bible times was more work than today when a cook takes a box with a bag of noodles, a bag of seasonings, and a bag of sauce mix and cooks it on their super-duper electric stove--and yet both can be joyful or joyless depending upon a person's point of view.
This hit a nerve. Pastor Sean was talking to me again; I didn't know he knew my story about Hamburger Helper and the frustration I find in it. You would think that if anything I would be delighted by its convenience, but I am not. I like to cook from scratch (though I don't home-grow yet; I will grow some fruit and vegetables this summer if God is willing, but I doubt that I will ever grow animals for food and/or butcher them), and I don't really relish the idea of sitting down to Hamburger Helper. It's helpful, I'll admit, to have it when I'm unexpectedly kept out for the day and have to make dinner in 20 minutes.
Here's the typical scenario that I find: I might make 40 different dinners in pretty regular succession from scratch at our house, and I enjoy doing that. The process of thinking up a meal that can be made from ingredients we have on hand, finding a recipe for it and adapting it to our tastes and ingredients or to make it healthier; then browning the meat, peeling and chopping the vegetables, making the sauce, cooking the noodles or rice, and bringing everything to be done at the same time and before people are hungry enough to eat my arm...I enjoy the challenge of it. So I make the 40 dinners and don't generally hear any comment from my dear husband in appreciation. I'm sure he appreciates it and means to cast no slur on the meal; however, it doesn't occur to him to say so. But the night I make Hamburger Helper, that stuffer of stomachs necessitated by a stressed schedule, well that night, I invariably get a comment. My husband loves that stuff! I think it brings him back to his childhood when his mother made it. She was a working mom, and back then Hamburger Helper mixes were a novelty dream for the working woman, as for some they are still.
Yes, I think I get joy in the process of the usual making dinner. I'm glad that my husband's comments aren't what I live for, though I like to please him and feed all the family nutritiously. I often thought it would make sense to give up and make Hamburger Helper every night, but I can't picture it happening. Now I think I might understand why God built joy into the other form of cooking. Though I know not everyone looks at it that way, I like to think He sees the value in the variety and the process as well.