Discover The Taste Of Goodness

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The Flavor Of Goodness Rescues Us From Affliction

by Eric Elkin

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.
— Psalm 34:19

Losing your sense of taste when suffering from a cold is the worst. Well, that may be an overstatement, but it is one of my least favorite effects of sickness. It is especially annoying when Peggy makes something I love to eat for dinner. Even though my nose cannot smell the food, my mind remembers the goodness. I eat thinking I will taste it, but it never happens.

The loss of taste turns the joy of eating into frustration. While the memory of the meal may play with the mind, it cannot overcome the absence of flavor. The sick eat expecting joy, but only discover emptiness.

80% of all taste is shaped by our sense of smell. Medical virologist, Dr. Marvin Hsiao, has determined there are 100 different rhinoviruses which can produce a human cold. Rhinoviruses are the most common infectious agent in humans. The word literally means, “A virus of the nose.” 

We start to lose our sense of smell and taste as we age. However, it is especially common with people receiving cancer treatments. For people with cancer or any major sickness, the loss of taste is dangerous. Our bodies depend upon food to function. Without it, our bodies do not have enough energy to fight disease.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
— Desmond Tutu

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good,” is one of the most recognizable lines from Psalm 34. This morning, as I was reading the psalm, I wondered, if losing our sense of taste is both irritating and dangerous physically, can it be equally annoying and dangerous spiritually?

Rhinoviruses do not necessarily attack our sense of goodness. However, several other contributing factors do. Sports radio shapes my ability to taste goodness. It gets me all worked up about some meaningless and defines it as suffering.

How a news story is written can be like a virus to my soul. Political advertisements, opinion pieces, a broken down car, a problem at work, an unfinished home project; these are a few of my favorite spiritual viruses. They distort my ability to taste goodness.

What happens when we lose our ability to taste the Lord’s goodness? Look around at our current culture, we see the impact every day. Despite a long period of economic prosperity, we act as though we are suffering. The national and international communities of the world are fractured and violent. 

Psalm 34 also reminds us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.” God rescues us through our neighbors. It is why Jesus taught us to love them. The joy of good friends improves our ability to smell the goodness of the Lord. Helping someone worse off than ourselves reminds us of the trivial nature of our “suffering.”

Afflictions are abundant in the world. Those who live in hope and grow in love for others discover the taste of goodness. Our souls need this flavor to function. It rescues us from all affliction. 


Click to read Psalm 34: 1-8; 19-22

Reflection Questions:

  • When was a time you were afflicted with a lack of taste?

  • Where do you lack the flavor of goodness in your life?

  • What does loving a person with a contrasting view look like?

  • How can engaging our neighbor restore flavor to life?

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