I’ve had many grocery store mangoes, even here in Hawaii. But, when mango season rolls around, my mouth starts to water. There is NOTHING like a fresh ripe mango grown and picked right here on Hawaii Island. Juice pours out as you cut it. The flesh is dark orange and soft with no strings and it’s so sweet it tastes better than candy.
We have a local farmer who sells about 15 different varieties at the farmer’s market. And she’ll tell you all the differences… this one is buttery, this one is more tangy, this one has a floral undertone, this one is the sweetest. Yes, it’s like going to a coffee bar or a wine bar.
Once you taste one, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The purity of a fresh, island-grown mango reminds me of experiencing joy in the midst of the mundane, or even the struggles in life.
Have you lost this joy, or know someone struggling to find joy again? It happens to me all too frequently. Sometimes it’s because….
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Sometimes it’s because I’ve become fixated on my ever-growing, out-of-control to-do list. Sometimes the words, actions or inactions of other people steal my joy. And sometimes circumstances beyond my control create grief, fear, or loneliness that snuffs out my joy.
The biblical songwriter of the Psalms also faced huge responsibilities. He was chased down by his enemies, and spent much of his life paying the price of his own bad choices. And yet he could say this, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Could this be the key to joy in the midst of all these circumstances? It is for me. Faith in the goodness of God has gotten me through an immense amount of pain, loneliness, and unfair circumstances in my life.
I hear your questions already. “If God is good, why…. ?” “If God is good, where was God when…?” “If God is good, why doesn’t he…?”
Let me answer all of those questions with this picture. Imagine we are standing on opposite sides of a table. On one side, you stand holding a ripe mango you purchased from the grocery store on the mainland (representing these questions). It was shipped from Mexico when it was green. But it’s ripe now, with pretty reds and yellows spreading over the green. It smells a little nice too.
On the other side, I too hold a mango that has green, yellow and red on the outside (representing God’s goodness). You can’t smell it, but I tell you that it smells wonderful! I tell you my mango was grown right here in Hawaii and was just harvested. It’s fresh and is going to be sweet and juicy.
Now, I offer to give you my mango for your mango. Will you take it? Will you choose to believe me when I say that my mango is far superior to your mango?
As you take my mango into your hands, you smell it. It does smell better than your mango. But until you taste it, you won’t really know how sweet it is. So sweet, in fact that you will lick every last drop of juice from the plate you cut it on (I know from experience). Until you taste that mango, you won’t experience the joy of a fresh Hawaiian mango.
That, my friend, is the answer to these questions and to finding joy in all the hard times of life. It’s not just saying you have faith in God, but holding tight to the truth that God is good, even when circumstances are not. That is how we taste his goodness and experience joy.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
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The original and prints of "Ho'olaule'a Mango" are available at my artist website.
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