What’s Stewing? (Angel in the Kitchen)


What’s cookin’? A stew! Stews (and stewing) are as old as cooking. A Roman cookbook published during the 4th century AD mentions stew; but most of us know of an even earlier reference to the dish, in the Biblical book of Genesis, which historians believe was written between 1410 and 1450 BC. As recorded in Genesis 25:27-34, an apparently extremely hungry Esau — who also was apparently extremely short-sighted — sold his Jewish birthright to his younger brother, Jacob — for a bowl of meat and lentil stew. Esau thereby gave up pretty much everything that counted in his culture, but hey, can we really blame him? After all, we’re talking about STEW here: a tender, savory mixture of meat, fish, or poultry, and assorted vegetables — cooked with a little water for an extended period over a low heat. Stewing foods means that the cook brings them to a slow boil, and then allows them to simmer. Meats and veggies stew in their own juices, allowing the flavors to truly blend and seep in. Meats are suffused with the aromatic flavors of spices and fresh veggies, such as onions, peas and carrots. Hungry yet? Well don’t forget that rich brown gravy that envelopes most stews! Mmmm!

There’s another definition of the verb STEW: to worry, to sulk or to fuss. And as with the culinary definition, performing this “action” yields similar results: a stew! In this sense, a stew means a state of agitation, uneasiness, or worry. Interestingly, the emotional “cooking” process is pretty much the same. A mixture of different, and often conflicting, thoughts and feelings fill our minds, and we allow these thoughts to simmer. For an extended period. Over a low heat, as our emotions come to a boil. The results of our stewing are that feelings of fear, hurt, doubt, and anger blend together and seep in — deeply! The results, however, are far from pleasing.

We’re all familiar with the idiom “to stew in one’s own juice”; but when we do this, negative thoughts and emotions penetrate deeper and deeper, the way spices penetrate and suffuse stewed beef. Hurts, when allowed to simmer in our hearts, can suffuse our attitude toward every situation and every one. Anger, after a long period of stewing, can lead to bitterness and an inability to forgive. When we allow worry to simmer in our thoughts, we eventually become nervous wrecks. And fear? Allow fear to simmer very long with your other emotions, and soon its horrid flavor will taint your entire outlook on life. In any of these scenarios, we’re essentially “cooking” our own hearts and minds, only this emotional stew doesn’t produce tender results.

God doesn’t want us stewing over stuff. That’s why he admonishes us to take several important steps. For instance, are you mad about something? Are you upset with someone? “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT) Meaning: resolve your issues and/or turn the situation over to God, trusting Him to heal your hurts. In other words, get over it before the day is done, so that you can move forward.

Are you facing big problems or issues that have you worried? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT) Hey, this verse says it all. Besides, worrying accomplishes nothing but a sour stomach.

Fearful? “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Has someone hurt you? “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Roman 12:14 NLT) Stop stewing, before all the wrong juices seep into your soul. “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT)