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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Graber

I love Jesus...but I'm still struggling with sugar

Sugar has become a pervasive ingredient in all foods, from God's green earth (cane stalks) into the refinery, where the real damage is done. Now, this tasty sweetener cannot be replaced. Cane sugar has properties other sweeteners lack. Substituting other sugars in recipes does not yield the same consistency as pure, refined granulated sugar. But, this kind of sugar also has negative effects on the body because of the process of refining.

When I think of sugar, I think of Proverbs 23:3 (NIV): "Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive." Now, my interpretation is out of context of the actual story related to this verse. Read this chapter; it's a pretty great story, but this isn't my time to tell it. I'm called to talk about something else right now. I am deceived about sugar; I am deceived by the good flavor when those tiny, granular sugar crystals are actually damaging. Sweet, delicious, tiny flavor flakes that melt on the tongue! They may be tiny, but they are actually adding inches to my hips and wrecking my hormones! I still seek sugar--even though it's not good for me.

What should I be seeking? Nutrition is not so far from spiritual health...I should be seeking Jesus.

So, I gave up sugar for lent in a sort of fast. Unfortunately, my body continues to crave the sugar. One of the things I am reflecting on this Lenten season is how some things I do taste or feel good in the moment but have long term negative effects on my body, my self esteem, my attitude, and my soul. The process of fasting and praying through cravings has given me the space to see how neglecting little bad habits have built up over time. Allowing myself to be refined by God is good because God fortifies me in a positive healthy way. I'm developing conscientious eating habits and reaching out to faith-based friends for community.

The result? 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) says,

6In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Giving up sugar sure feels like a trial, but keeping the endgame in mind has fortified my faith. When I feel the craving for something bad, I start reminding myself that my current trial is just a blip in the grander scheme of things. I can pray through the momentary suffering (and let's face it--this kind of suffering is not huge). God wants to help me through. I don't have to give into my cravings. Peter's letter is a reminder that there is hope in the sacrifice of Jesus and to be faithful from the heart. Despite strife, the promise Peter refers to is the one God gave: salvation. My struggles with sugar are my refining fire. The reward of "praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" will be so much more rewarding than my minor struggles now.

In my post about cravings last week, I talked about how God is in the details of our lives. So it is with even the smallest of troubles. For example, I slipped up on my sugar fast and sent this text seeking advice from my friends in Christ, Julie and Anita:

Thankfully, God put these fine, Christian women in my life! I got this back:

Now, I keep going back to Psalm 103 and reminding myself that God is refining me, making be a better, stronger person in faith. I'm not perfect, and God knows me best. Focusing on the things of this world--like sugar--are a distraction when I should be keeping my eyes on God. When I fail, God is merciful and loving. Seek Him. Praise Him. Rejoice in Him. God is unfailingly merciful and loving when His children mess up and turn to God for much needed support.

Friends, surround yourselves with God's people. Remember what it is to "greatly rejoice" in spite of the difficulties of life--even the minor ones like resisting caramel popcorn during a sugar fast. My grandma used to say, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Now, I know that I don't have to because God has my back--even for resisting those little grains of sweetness.

Wishing you strength and blessings in whatever you need to be lifted up today,


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