Cranberries by themselves can be a pretty sour eating experience!
But when combined with other complimentary foods, spices, or sugars, they contribute towards a unique blend of flavors . . . and a nutritious, finished entrée!
Here’s a perfect example!
Baked Cranberry Chicken Breasts
4 (5 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – flattened
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
¼ cup white wine
1 cup stuffing mix
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a glass baking dish by spraying with cooking spray.
Place chicken breasts into baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Stir together chicken soup and wine; pour over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with stuffing mix and cranberries, drizzle butter over top.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
According to “How Stuff Works.com”, cranberries are a very sought-after crop because they’re versatile and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They also grow in a most unique environment – a bog … which is a wetland full of sphagnum moss, acidic waters, and peat deposits.
While growing in a bog, cranberry plants have to contend with a host of unfavorable conditions, and it’s amazing they have the durability to survive in this habitat. Cranberries need fresh water to survive, but bogs consist of mostly acidic water. God has designed this plant, however, with tough woody stems and small leaves that have a leather-like consistency. This design enables the plant to retain as much fresh water as possible by restricting the amount of usable water that passes through. The plant’s fine roots also absorb and use organic nitrogen to survive, despite the scarcity of nutrients in the bog’s sterile soil. What’s more, cranberry vines are resilient — an undamaged one can last indefinitely. In fact, some vines have been found to be more than 150 years old!
Considering the cranberry’s delicate nature and vibrant ruby red glow, it’s hard to imagine that the ideal environment for its survival would be such an unusual and harsh place. But God created it to survive and thrive . . . just as He has each of us. When we gave our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, we became new creations that day, old things passed away, all things became new … and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives from that point forward has given us the “durability to survive in this habitat”! “The Spirit also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26. We live in an unusual and harsh place, but we are not part of it! “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” – 1 Peter 2:11. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10.
“Bogs filled with acidic water” may surround us, but John 7:38 tells us “He who believes in Me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” And just as the cranberry plant’s fine roots absorb organic nitrogen to survive … if it were left up to the nutrients of this world, we would spiritually starve to death! Jesus is, however, the vine from which we draw our nutrients! “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5.
And just as the cranberry vines are resilient and can last indefinitely, we too will live forever! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16.
Lastly, just like cranberries by themselves can be a sour eating experience, Christians facing tough times alone may find their walks weakened and their dispositions soured. That’s one reason why God places the children He has adopted into spiritual families, the faith communities where we both give and receive encouragement.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25.
Those of us who follow in the steps of Jesus are called to fellowship with each other, to encourage and build one another up. And as we do, the unique gifts He’s given to each of us will blend together to deliver a spiritually nourished church full of love and good deeds!
— Cheri Henderson