The Little Red Hen wanted to make bread. First, she had to harvest the wheat grain. None of her friends would help her. Then, she had to grind the grain into flour-a tedious task. None of her friends would help her.
After travailing over the confection of her bread, the Little Red Hen sat at her table to finally partake of the fresh, hot bread. The yeasty aroma wafted with the cool breeze, through the open windows. Friends came to the Little Red Hen’s house, inviting themselves for tea, jam, and, well, bread. However, the Little Red Hen nicely but firmly said that she had made the bread by herself when her friends refused to help, so she would therefore eat the bread by herself, without their help!
As children, the story of the Little Red Hen makes us aware of the concept of fairness-“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth-” (Exodus 21:24). We learn the importance of helping our neighbor and the incredible amount of work which contributes to a single loaf of bread. Perhaps, we could even interpret the story of the Little Red Hen as an original support of modern feminism! Allow me to explain what I learned from the Little Red Hen.
In life, there are times when we all feel like the Little Red Hen. We work without stop, without help-giving of ourselves more than we receive. Our friends, families, and spiritual advisors seem to coo at our frustrations and indulge us as we list our selfish complaints. Still, we feel like we are trudging through life in complete isolation. We pity ourselves and despise others who have the audacity to be happy! We are waiting for our bread to be finished baking-the kitchen is hot from the heat of the oven- and we anticipate the moment when our friends will finally see the fruit of our efforts.
However, Jesus told us what we should do when people come asking for our bread, our advice, our prayers, or our time. In His controversial “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus instructed us, saying, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matthew 5:41,42)
When my father was a pastor, I remember serving special guests with my sister, Krista, after a service while the youth group went to a restaurant. Hurt and jealousy did come to me, but they did not overcome me! When I look back at that instance now, I cherish the lesson in humility and servitude which I learned. Also, I treasure the lively conversation which we shared with the visiting missionaries. Something good came from a difficult situation.
Even now, there are times when I look around at my heavy circumstances (the malfunctioning cars, mounds of moving boxes, ailing grandparents, etc.) and wonder why everyone else seems to flourish. Somebody marries. Someone welcomes a baby. Another person is prospering in ministry. Here in this moment, I seem to be rotating around a gigantic, barely moveable stone, grinding grain.
The apostle Peter, a man who definitely believed in fairness (see John 18), said “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care on him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6,7)
Whether you are the church janitor, the youth leader, the Sunday school teacher for toddlers, the music leader, the pastor’s kid, or (in many cases) all of the above, take a deep breath and remind yourself that God really does care for you and that God really is fair (Psalm 94:1; Hebrews 10:30; Romans 12:19).
So, when the bread is finally done, and people come to you, don’t be stingy like the Little Red Hen. Invite them into your home, prepare for them a place, and let them enjoy sharing the results of your good, hard work. Who, but God, knows? Some day, your neighbor might have to grind his own grain. What will you do then? Will you help him-remembering your own lonely work- and reap blessings alongside him?
Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
Basically, Jesus was saying that good things happen to both good and bad people, and bad things happen to both good and bad people. What determines our relationship with God, then, is our attitude, not our circumstances. Do we chose to help even the people who have refused to help us? Or do we hoard our bread, eating alone as it rapidly becomes stale?