As brand new missionaries we were eager to meet our Japanese neighbors. I baked homemade banana bread and we toted the loaves to the nearby houses in Karuizawa. After opening their doors, the surprised residents bowed, received our gift with both hands, while saying, “Eat a dark mouse.”
Well, that’s what our “gaijin” ears heard. We learned they replied, “Itadakimasu,” meaning “I humbly and gratefully receive it.”
“Itadakimasu” became my favorite Japanese word, even ahead of sushi and tempura. I often began my day with it, lifting my open hands while still in bed, to remind myself every day is a gift. (That’s why it’s called the present.)
But what happens when a day or month or year doesn’t look like a gift? Job is the poster person for saying “Itadakimasu” to the hard and heavy: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10, NKJV)
How can we get to a place of acceptance like Job? Settle two things: God is good. God is in control…completely, no matter who is involved and what happens.
We can take God’s Word to the bank and never fear a bounced check! That includes the incredible promise “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28a, NKJV)
Notice it doesn’t say “all things are good,” but “all things work together for good.” That’s a huge difference. Hard to understand?
Take a lesson from blueberry pancakes! (Do you love them? Me too.) But they can’t be made without adding bitter, terrible-tasting baking soda. Amazingly, stir in the soda and ta-dah–blue polka-dotted sweetness!
Is “eating a dark mouse” hard to swallow? Yes…but God can bring us to a place where we will trust Him, no matter how difficult, how painful a day or a season.
I’m not there yet, but I’m encouraged that Peter, who denied Jesus in an effort to escape pain, later assured us.
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1 Peter 4:12-13,The Message)
We will not be able to say “Itadakimasu” to hard things, until we first say it to Jesus, surrendering to the wisdom of His ways. (In case you haven’t heard, Christianity isn’t hard, it’s impossible!) Only when we welcome Him wholeheartedly do we receive His power to live in the sweet serenity of acceptance.
Arigatou gozaimasu, Tom-Sensei, for your encouragement.
Great article! BTW, "Don't mention it" used after receiving a "thank you," is "doitashimashte" which for us became "don't touch my mustache!"