For the first time in my life, I lost my sense of smell and taste.
It was the strangest thing not to be able to taste my morning coffee and bacon or smell my children’s heads. At one point I tried to eat a banana — one of my favorite foods — only to be disgusted because apparently no taste and all texture make bananas unbearable.
Food became pleasureless. I had no desire to eat anymore except for the pure necessity of surviving. The silver lining, of course, was that since I couldn’t taste, I didn’t overeat, and I could drink green tea without any sugar or honey, and that had to be healthy. I even lost a few pounds.
Through my experience, I realized that food is not a gift. The taste of food and the pleasure we receive from it are the gifts.
If food had no taste, there would be no gluttony, no unhealthy bodies, and no eating issues. But there also wouldn’t be feasting and the experience of mixing the variety of flavors to create something exquisite for the palate.
God did not have to make food taste good, but He did. Why? Pleasure.
Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
He thought up all the colors and spices and seasonings and interesting flavors because He knew we would experience pleasure in them; God delights in our pleasure.
But what if the pleasure goes away? What if we lose our sense of taste or touch or sight or sound or smell? How can we taste and see that He is good?
When I lost my sense of smell and taste, I realized just how much I relied on food to get me through my day. When I was bored, I’d eat. When I was overwhelmed, I’d eat. When I wanted to procrastinate, I’d eat. When I wanted to lose weight, I couldn’t stop eating. Food and the pleasure of it captured me. I was a slave to it. But the minute I lost the ability to taste and smell, it ceased having power over me.
And yet, God doesn’t take away our pleasure. He knew the risk that we might long more for pleasure than for Him. We see this every day. I see this in my own life. But when my ability to taste and smell disappeared and eating felt meaningless, I saw God’s heart. I saw His kindness with fresh eyes. I saw His delight in my pleasure, that even though I have put pleasure before Him in a thousand ways, He was still with me, waiting for me to be satisfied in Him, the Father and the Giver of it all.
Whether I can taste or smell or see any of it, I always have Him. He never leaves me or forsakes me. He delights in me, His daughter, and nothing can take that away.
Thankfully, I can smell and taste again. One minute it was gone, and the next it was back. I nuzzled into my daughters’ hair, and I thanked God that I could smell her again. When I drank my coffee, I thanked God for its richness. When I ate and tasted my food, I thanked God for the delight of flavor.
Maybe today when you take that first sip of coffee or you bite into your morning eggs or you indulge in a piece of dark chocolate, close your eyes, be more aware of the taste, and thank God for the gift of pleasure.