But really though, is it? When will it be ready? I thought you were supposed to be done by now? When can we eat? It looks good already, can we just eat it now?
Don’t pretend you haven’t heard these questions before. Probably, you’ve even asked them before, perhaps even to yourself about your own cooking! A meal is taking a bit longer than you expected, you’re really hungry and that stew really does look pretty good. Why not just eat it now?
More often than not, we need to practice patience in our lives. Sometimes it is just waiting for dinner to be ready, sometimes it is waiting for results from your new diet plan, sometimes it is waiting for God to answer prayer. Our prayers come in many forms and are never answered in the same way. Almost never are they answered on our timeline or in ways that we understand. Because God’s time is not our own time, we frequently find ourselves asking, “When? Weren’t we already done with this? Isn’t this taken care of already?”
So here’s a stew recipe that asks you to wait, even though it looks like it is ready.
Hatch Green Chili and Pork Stew
2 lbs lean pork, cubed
2 Tbs fat (I use olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c tapioca starch (you can use flour or cornstarch if not observing a such a diet)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
6-8 roasted green chilies, chopped*
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c chicken stock
- Heat the fat over medium heat in a small dutch oven or stock pot. Add the pork and lightly brown (don’t worry about it being cooked through, it will cook later).
- Once the pork has browned, add the onion and garlic until translucent.
- Stir in the starch to coat the pork, so that everything is sticky (this is your thickening agent).
- Add the tomatoes (you can drain them if you like, but I prefer them undrained), green chilies, jalapenos, salt and pepper. Incorporate thoroughly and allow to simmer briefly. Then add the stock, bring to a rolling simmer.
- Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for at least an hour, best at least two hours.
*You can typically get these roasted in-store, but if you live in a place like I do, where they only roast one, maybe two, Saturdays out of the season, I just roast them on my own. This is easy– line a baking sheet with foil, line out the peppers and roast at 400* for 20 minutes. Then turn the peppers and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Then allow to cool, remove the stem, skin (should be papery) and seeds.
About halfway there, you could easily fall into the trap of ‘isn’t it ready yet?’ It looks right and everything seems cooked. Why wait?
A few reasons:
- your pork may not be cooked through yet. Eat it now and you might end up pretty unhappy in a few hours.
- the flavor hasn’t deepened yet. Taste it now and you won’t be able to appreciate the green chilies.
- you’ll never get to experience the wonderful smell of stew wafting through your home, whetting your appetite and calling you to the dinner table.
Similarly, God frequently asks us to wait, asks us to practice patience, because no, dinner isn’t ready yet.
There are many purposes for patience. Just like the reasons why we wait for our dish to be finished cooking, God has reason to ask us to wait for the answer of our prayers, some for our benefit, some for the benefit of others.
Paul tells us in Romans 5 that we can (and should) rejoice in our troubles, because “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” — Romans 5:3-4 So perhaps we are being asked to wait for a reason so simple as our need to grow in character and hope. When we give up patience, we also give up hope. We get discouraged when we expect results too soon. We give up because we don’t see what we want to see. Not yet. So we are convinced that it isn’t coming at all. So we quit before the fullness of time has passed.
It might sound frivolous, but sometimes practicing patience really is just for our own good, to grow us as individuals and as Christians. That means every time you rush ahead, get impatient and expect the answer to your prayers in your own time instead of His, you deny Him the opportunity to grow you, to make you more like Him.
We also need to remember that God often says no or to wait because giving us what we want now would hurt us. I’m sure we can all recall a time that we wanted something, didn’t get it and learned later that we are better off not ever having gotten what we wanted. It might be the girl-that-got-away, the job you didn’t get or the friends you didn’t make. This really shouldn’t require much explanation. Just like eating food before it is cooked makes us sick, going after what we want before the time is right could land us in the same position. Just as it is written in Ecclesiasties 3, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: …a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.” There is a time to embrace and a time to let go, but if we embrace when we should be letting go, we will end up getting hurt.
Last, but certainly not least, we are often asked to be patient for the benefit of others. Paul reminds us, in Ephesians 4:2, to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Because we all make mistakes and have struggles, our relationships rely upon our patience with one another. It is easy to ‘express ourselves’ quickly and eagerly in the face of conflict or when our friends are anything less than ideal friends. But the thing is, we need the patience of others. Without it, we lose the valuable and necessary community that Christ both calls us to and provides for us. Without mutual patience, we lose the other fruits of the spirit and without those…well, you see where I’m going with this. This is a virtue that we need to practice constantly for the sake of our relationships and community. Love one another through your patience with one another and allow the growing fragrance of your friendship to bless not only each other, but also the Lord.
It all comes down to whether or not you truly trust the chef. Do you trust God to place you on the right path and guide you? Do you trust that his plan is to work together for your good, not for your harm? Do you believe that he is in control? Then don’t second-guess him. Have patience. Know that the results are coming, even if they don’t seem to be on the way. Trust in his plan; trust in his sovereignty. Stop asking ‘isn’t is ready yet?’
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. — Proverbs 3:5-6