Ten-year-old Abbie, intent on learning to cook, listened closely as Mrs. Brown continued in a  cooking demonstration for a group of families.

“Today, I’m going to teach you how to make caramelized onions.  I know you get lots of bags of onions. Who knows what to do with all of them? I do! This is one easy way to cook them, leaving them full of vitamins.” And the woman sliced them into thin rings, separated them and dropped them into hot oil.

“We are cooking these slowly. They are a great topping on meats, hot dishes, omelets…”

But after what seemed hours of watching the sliced onions just simmering in a pan to a light brown, Abby leaned over to her mother and whispered, “When is she going to add the caramel?”

Abby figured that caramel was a necessary ingredient. It isn’t. Cooking onions slowly until they are golden brown changes them from crisp and eye-watering to sweet. This technique brings out the natural sugar. They are perfect as God made them.

How often do a change of plans due to circumstances, finances, or hardship, cause us to long for  the something extra – like caramel?

Hardship is nothing new. It forces one to be flexible, adapt to circumstances, do without, postpone, and maybe even ignore disappointment welling up inside. But overall, hardship produces learning experiences with much greater consequences and results.

Keep looking up and knowing God is handling the cooking, recipes, and menu.

Old Testament Elijah came into a small village and asked a widow at the town gate for a drink of water and a piece of bread. She was gathering sticks for a cooking fire. But she told him that she had only enough oil and flour to make a last meal for herself and her son, and then they would die.

In those times, the law required that the nation cared for its prophets, Elijah assured her not to be afraid to make a cake for him first. Then he shared God’s promise to the widow that “the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” [1 Kings 17:14 NIV]

The widow and her son experienced that miracle of food each day for some time. Even more faith-building was when the widow’s son became ill and died, but Elijah prayed that God’s power would give the boy life again. The prophet gave the boy—alive and well—back to his mother.

It was an astonishing moment, for she told Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.’”  1 Kings 17:24

Through hardship comes lasting life lessons—patience, persistence, faith, and maturity. God provides. He gives us hope that hard times are not forever.

And the gifts he gives us in the meantime may be just like caramelized onions without caramel. They are perfect the way they are!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, buttontogod.dev. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]



About Jo Russell

Jo’s humor, inspirational stories, articles and devotionals have spanned more than 40 years, with several national writing contest awards for humor. She's a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Shaping the New You and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul.

Contact Jo

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook. To schedule Jo as a speaker or to discuss your writing project and receive a free quote, call her at 928-536-2479. Or contact her using the website Contact Form.

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The Choice We Have Between a Dead Egg and a Live Savior

Never Give Up!

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