In the northeastern United States, codfish are a big commercial business. Note the following facts: There is a market for eastern cod all over, especially in the sections farthest removed from the northeastern coastline. But the public demand posed a problem to the shippers.
At first they froze the cod, then shipped them elsewhere, but the freeze took away much of the flavor. So they experimented with shipping them alive, in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, the cod still lost its flavor, and, in addition, became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected.
Finally, some creative shipper solved the problem in a most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy - the catfish. From the time the cod left the East Coast until it arrived at its westernmost destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank.
And, you guessed it - when the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected. If anything, it was better than before.
Each one of us is in a tank of particular inescapable circumstances. It is painful enough to stay in the tank. But in addition, there are God-appointed 'catfish' to bring sufficient tension to keep us alive, flavored, alert, fresh, and growing. It's all a part of God's project to shape our character so we will be more like His Son.
Understand why the catfish are in your salt-water tank. Understand they are part of God's method of producing character in your life, and mine. Let's not lose the flavor or the salt.
Well said, Dr. Swindoll! A perfect example of this can be found in the Old Testament Book of Ruth. As the book unfolds, an Israelite woman named Naomi seems to have wonderful life. Everything is going well for her and her family in Bethlehem. Happily married, she and her husband, Elimelech, have been blessed with two sons.
But then things start to go inexplicably bad for all concerned. A famine arises, forcing her family to become refugees in a foreign land called Moab. Upon arrival, her husband dies. In a short time, she also suffers the loss of both of her sons.
But she remains faithful to her God. And after about ten years, thing get better back home. When she decides to return, her daughter-in-law, a Moabite woman named Ruth, insists on going with her. Little did either of them know that Ruth was destined to meet and marry a man named Boaz; and that from their union would come Obed, who would sire Jesse, who would then father a young lad named David, who was destined to be the greatest King in the history of ancient Israel.
So, my friend, if you find yourself inexplicably tormented, attacked seemingly at every turn by a continual plague of difficult circumstance, do not despair. One never knows what God is up to. One never knows how His divine plan is being worked out as He moves us from point A to point B on the journey of life that He has planned for each of us from all eternity.
One day, when we have finally arrived, and when we have the benefit of hindsight, we may well be delighted to connect the dots and understand just exactly why He allowed us to be poked, pricked, and prodded incessantly all along life’s journey.
And despite our wounds, despite our scabs, despite our scars, we will be pleased to have arrived just where He wanted us to be: all for His divine purposes. Surely that will be worth the struggle. Surely that will be worth the hassle. And if you don’t believe me, just wait till we get to Heaven and ask a woman named Naomi!
CHARLES SWINDOLL STORY SOURCE: https://books.google.com/books?id=Mm_U1VqZ9qoC&pg=PT41&lpg=PT41&dq=swindoll+codfish&source=bl&ots
This story is also available widely on the internet. See, for example, http://www.kubik.org/lighter/character.htm.