Bob Tamasy: What Are Your "Grapes" Moments In History?

  • Thursday, April 18, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Have you ever stomped grapes? I haven’t but have always thought it would be an interesting experience. I’m old enough to remember the hilarious skit from the TV sitcom “I Love Lucy” when Lucy decides to trample grapes to prepare for a role in an Italian movie. It was a “grape” moment in comedic history.

When we think of grape stomping (if we think of it at all), we have images of folks barefooted, grape juice oozing between their toes. But have you wondered what it would be like to be one of the grapes? If they could talk, I’m certain we’d hear gripes from the grapes. Who likes to be crushed?

We might not be grapes, but like it or not, life serves up some crushing moments for each of us. When we’re young, it might be mom or dad refusing to buy that bar of candy at the grocery store. Or getting a bad grade on a test. Or enduring a breakup with our first girlfriend or boyfriend.

As we get older, our crushing moments become more consequential: Being fired or laid off from a job. A car breaking down and requiring major, costly repairs. A cancer diagnosis. A divorce. Having a child get into serious difficulty that can’t be easily remedied. Suffering the loss of a loved one.

How we handle these and other situations of similar or greater gravity sets a tone for our lives as we move forward. As someone has said, we can either become bitter – or become better. We can collapse in a heap and moan, “Why me, Lord?!” Or adopt a different perspective, thinking, “Why not me, Lord?” recognizing there’s really no reason we should be exempt from life’s adversities.

There’s a third and probably best approach for dealing with life’s overwhelming, crushing experiences: Recognizing they have been allowed by God and will be used within His sovereign plan. One of the most used – and sometimes overused – verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Granted, this passage can be misused as a handy, one-size-fits-all platitude in attempting to comfort others in pain. That doesn’t mean it’s not true.

The Lord can use our crushing circumstances in His process for transforming us, molding us into the people He desires for us to become. In one of his recent daily readings, my favorite devotional writer Oswald Chambers observed, “The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine and not the burden…. If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out. It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak in God’s strength.”

That last statement is the key. The apostle Paul, after recapping some of his own sufferings – which included whippings and beatings, shipwrecks, betrayals, hunger and thirst, deprivation, and his unspecified “thorn in the flesh” – made this statement:

“…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Perhaps like helpless grapes, we don’t find delight in the crushing. As Chambers said, instead of producing wine, we choose instead to whine. At such times we should remember the example of our Savior, of whom Isaiah 53:4-5 says, “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.”

A diamond, we’re told, is a lump of coal that was hardened and refined under intense, prolonged pressure. Perhaps when God allows us to go through the winepress of life, He sees us as diamonds in the rough, desperately in need of smoothing and polishing. Our crushing circumstances can be used to bring that about.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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