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I Saw Jesus in My Phytochemicals Class

While I was in school I took a class on Phytochemicals, which are non-caloric, non-nutrient substances found in plant foods. Although they are non-essential, they serve to provide health benefits and may help to protect from some diseases. One category of the many phytochemicals out there is polyphenols. Under this category are berries, potatoes, eggplants, apples, grapes, kale, broccoli, onion, parsley, soybeans, and the list can really go on and on. There are several factors that influence the amount of polyphenols in food, such as ripening, processing, and storage; however, it’s the environmental factor that got me thinking about how trials serve to improve us.

Increased environmental stressors help promote an increase in polyphenols in plants, such as blueberries, for example. Blueberries treated with pesticides are guarded from hungry insects, but organic blueberries (untreated with pesticide) toughen their skin as they grow amidst the biting insects around them. This process of “toughening up” is what causes an increase in polyphenols.

As my teacher was teaching this to us, I thought about how this is similar to how God leads us through trials in life. Sometimes these trials seem too burdensome for us to bear. At these times it’s tempting to pull out the pesticide to relieve us from, or help us ignore, the biting insects of the organic life. These “pesticides” might include lashing out on those whom we love, blaming someone else for our own faults, or even compromising on beliefs for the sake of convenience and comfort; anything that distracts ourselves from that opportunity to toughen our blueberry skin, per say. Life will bring trials (most of them in the size of insects), but by standing firm and trusting the promises found in the Word of God, we strength to overcome our earthly tendencies and find the freedom that is in having the character of Jesus Christ.  Every time of trial is a potential testimony.

The bible tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) When trials come, seek the Kingdom of Heaven and the ways of Heaven. Seek that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and worthy of praise, and dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8). This is the refining work of Jesus that will increase your faith in His love for you, His ability to work through you, and will cause you to shine as a testimony to those around you, even in the darkest times.

Tatiana Kim is a full time clinical dietitian at Loma Linda University Medical Center, as well as at the Inland Grace Adult Daycare Center.