Flags Across the Harvest #26October 28, 2022
A Whitman’s Sampler of joy
By 1842, 19-year-old Stephen F. Whitman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had already started the candy and confectionery company that bore his surname.
Then in 1912, it was recognized that he was producing so many different chocolate candies that it was impossible for the public to be exposed to them. So he came up with the novel idea of creating a small box of chocolates that would contain a variety of his different recipes. The long-famous Whitman’s Sampler was born.
By intent, each Whitman’s Sampler box varied in content. However, it was the first chocolate candy to provide an index of what was included once the package was opened.
Though you never knew what samples were in the box until it was unwrapped, this mystery and intrigue, along with the excitement of trying a new variety, made it so alluring.
During World War II, the Whitman’s Sampler became a popular gift that a G.I. would bring home to his family or best girl.
The thrill of biting into a flavor never tasted before was only surpassed by spotting and then grabbing (before someone else did) the selection that was a favorite old friend.
On occasion, my family was gifted with a Whitman’s Sampler, so I am no stranger to it. In the culture of the time, it became a symbol of a fleeting moment. It did not take long for me to know that the chocolate-covered jelly candy was my favorite; at best, two were in a box.
I was a boy, and as was common during those days, my head was full of dreams and goals for my life that were fueled by the exceptionalism that was my beloved America.
I would work on the Alaska Pipeline and come home with a pocket full of money, become an engineer in the auto industry, make our farm into a thriving enterprise, build my parents a new house, and do good for animals and people less fortunate than I was.
I would naturally have any new car I wanted (Hey, I am the Hot Rod Farmer!), a beautiful bikini-clad blonde wife with a Coppertone Tan (You have to be a certain age to recall those ads), and probably a host of other things that I cannot remember anymore.
Most of all, I wanted to be happy, as would anyone. Yet, nowhere in that head of mine that spun like a turbine did the words despair, disappointment, brokenness, or sorrow have a place.
I was immature and had yet to learn that the majority of the things I dreamt about had the potential to bring happiness. Still, I did not understand that the true treasures of life produce joy.
If you were to look up joy in the dictionary, it is defined as extreme happiness. Yet that ignores the root of the word happy, which is based on circumstances.
One is happy if their flight is completed on time, the latest issue of the Farm and Livestock Directory is in the mailbox, or your team wins the game. These and more are all good things but do not approach the emotion that true joy produces.
To find the meaning of joy, the Holy Scriptures need to be referenced.
Joy is expressed without speaking.
Tears, humbleness, thankfulness, and silent praise to our Lord for answered prayer represent joy.
You are grateful and thankful to God that your soldier returned home safely, that your loved one survived the complicated surgery, or that you are reunited with your beloved dog or cat that went missing.
Describing these events as making you happy would be degrading.
The Bible in Romans 15:13 provides an explanation of these emotions.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Since we have the same creator, animals experience happiness but more importantly, also joy.
The exhilaration cows have as they enter the pasture for the first time after a long, cold winter in the barn. The uncontrollable excitement of a shelter animal when they are embraced by their forever family for the first time. The clucking of a hen when she finds her lost chick.
Even the most hardened heart can see that these events evoke something deeper than happiness.
Joy can only be found in the true essence of life gifted to us through the mercy of the Lord. Man-made and material objects can, at best, bring happiness.
In our human mind, joy is just a turbocharged version of happiness. Of course, at times, it is, but I would like to share some examples of joy in my life that were not happy.
The opportunity to sit by my mother’s bedside and hold her hand for hours each day, telling her that I loved her and lifting her before the Lord, hoping that she knew I was there. Waking my wife at the right moment as her mother’s EKG changed, showing that she was getting ready to go home to the Lord. Sleeping one last time with my dog Sparky, washing his fur with my tears as he lifted his head slightly to gaze into my eyes and say goodbye.
If you look introspectively, you will recognize that the events that produce true joy are fleeting. Still, they are forever branded into the depths of our souls.
It is always too soon to say goodbye to a person or animal you love. But, at the prospect of that loss, we are all willing to make any deal with the Lord to change the circumstance, if only for a short while. We would trade anything for a few minutes more.
No one comes before the Savior with that same heart to chase happiness.
Life is full of every emotion. Yet, for many, the recognition of joy is elusive. They feel that it is the same as happiness, which is sad. It is to them I am writing this.
I referenced the Whitman’s Sampler since there often is not another of the same flavor in the box. Therefore, it needs to be savored, and allow your pallet to glean its full taste before you swallow.
Joy is like that. It must be recognized when it is being experienced and cherished in your heart from that moment on, being thankful to the Lord for its provision.
It, too, will be fleeting, never to return on this side of Heaven.
So please do not waste it.