Saturday, June 14, 2014

Artificial Sweetener

My family loves Chinese family, and I mean loves.  Anytime we travel, we are on the lookout for a good Chinese restaurant.  We've eaten in some great ones, and we've eaten in some H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E ones.  (We even ate in one that the health department shut down a few days after our visit for having rat, cat and dog in its freezer. Yum!)

One of my favorite Chinese restaurants is a tiny establishment in our local area.  The decor nor menu have changed in the last 25 years and the management is sometimes a little moody, but their won ton soup is delicious!  Their sauces have deep, slow-cooked flavor.  Their crawfish and lobster sauce on Fridays is divine.  And... we can eat there (all 7 of us) for under $40 at dinner.  

One problem though is that they don't have sweet tea.  I don't really understand how you can have a restaurant in the South and not have sweet tea, but this establishment does not.  Any good tea maker knows that the secret to good sweet tea is getting your sugar mixed in when the tea is hot enough to instantly dissolve your sugar.  If you wait until your tea is cool, or worse cold, your sugar is going to sink to the bottom and your tea will taste like water. The little pink, yellow, and blue packets are not going to make your tea sweet.

Artificial sweeteners. 

We're told that these little packets of sugar-like substances work as well as sugar.  That they are good for people who have diabetes.  That they provide less calories. That they're convenient.  That they replace sugar. 

But folks... nothing replaces sugar.

Sometimes in life, like in making tea, we try to find a short cut to make things sweet.  We look for artificial sweeteners in our everyday life.  And the society we live in is all to ready to provide us with all kinds of things to make us "happy."

Advertising tells us that we can find happiness if we just buy the right things.  Surely if you buy that $100 pair of jeans, you'll be happy.  Surely if you are able to eat at a certain restaurant, you will be happy.  Surely if you buy the right soda, eat the right snack, have the newest toy / gadget / computer... you are going to be happy!  

Thousands of self help books proclaim the secrets to being happy.

Talk shows provide organized, bullet point steps on how to find happiness.

Movies and television shows detail the kinds of relationships that will make us happy.

The tolerance movement tells us that if we just accept everyone and live with the motto of "anything goes" then everyone will be happy.

So why aren't we happy?

Why are we inundated with  commercials for prescription drugs to help us cope with depression? Why do we have kids walking into schools shooting other kids?  Why do we have marriages falling apart? Why do we have people using drugs and alcohol to escape from their problems? Why do we have people who have weekly counseling sessions? 

Why aren't we happy?

Could it be that the artificial sweeteners society provides for us sink to the bottom of us and fail to sweeten anything?

Society provides distractions that make us think life can be perfected through worldly things.  These distractions, however, can not live up to their promises. Artificial sweeteners cannot live up to sugar just as society's view of happiness cannot live up to the true happiness that we can find in Jesus Christ.

Believing in and trusting in Jesus is not a cure all that will bring immediate happiness.  We don't call out to Jesus and find that all of our problems have disappeared or that money has magically been deposited into our bank accounts or that the temptations of life will not taunt us.

As a matter of fact, as recorded in John 16:33, Jesus told us, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."

We can expect to find troubles in life.  The "happiness" we see in the media is a myth.  Happiness does not come from having stuff.  It comes from being content with who you are and what you have.  And most importantly, it comes from trusting in Jesus and knowing that He has overcome the trials and tribulations of the world.  

If you seek Him, He will take away your sins and you will find forgiveness, peace, and freedom from the holds that society binds us with.

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit" 
                                                                                                Proverbs 15:13