Hopelessness in the Chocolate Factory

Remember the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel get jobs in a chocolate factory? Several unsuccessful assignments find them side by side on a conveyor belt in the Wrapping Room. “Your assignment,” their drill sergeant supervisor barks, “is to wrap each piece of chocolate and place it back on the conveyor belt. If you miss one piece of chocolate,” she threatens, “YOU’RE FIRED!” 

She starts the conveyor belt, the chocolates move slowly down the line, and Lucy and Ethel wrap them. “Hey,” Lucy says with a smile, “this is pretty easy.” All goes well until the belt begins to move faster, and they begin to struggle. Before long, unable to maintain the pace, Lucy and Ethel stuff chocolates into their hats, blouses, and, yes, even into their mouths in a hopeless attempt to keep up. It is a futile and frustrating attempt at an impossible task. 

I used to have a recurring dream very similar to Lucy and Ethel’s nightmare. At least once or twice a year, I’d awaken in a sweaty, heart-pounding panic, unable to remember what had frightened me. All that ever remained was the feeling of being incredibly overwhelmed. Whatever task or situation I encountered in my dream always left me profoundly hopeless and emotionally distraught. 

Hebrews 7 describes this overwhelming futility in spiritual terms when it talks about the Old Testament priests making sacrifices over and over and over again, first for their own sins, then for the sins of the people. I can only imagine them, day after day, week after week, year after year, serving in the temple. They dedicated their lives to a futile attempt to expunge the sins of the people with the blood of goats and lambs. 

I was condemned to a similar fate. I began every day trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor, trying to do more good than bad and tip the scales of atonement in my favor. Without even realizing it, I was forever chasing a standard of perfection I had no hope or ability to attain. 

Resolutions, renewed determination, and times of confession did little to assuage the guilt and condemnation that hung over me as I pictured my works on God’s scale. I could never do enough good to counteract my bad, even though I was a “pretty good person” by the world’s standards. God’s Word was true, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). 

Me, the Old Testament priests, and Ethel and Lucy—trying hard and never good enough. 

Until one day someone shared with me the rest of the story: “Unlike the other high priests, he (Jesus) does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their (our) sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:27-28). 

When I acknowledged my helplessness and my need for a Savior, I exchanged the righteousness I could never attain for the righteousness God the Son attained for me. I was forgiven. “Saved to the uttermost,” Hebrews 7:25 says with absolute certainty. 

Now I have an advocate when I sin, forgiveness when I fail, and power to change. I’m no longer locked in a futile battle of wills with my sinful flesh, but can trust that “he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it” (Phil. 1:6). 

I asked Christ to be my Savior in July of 1982. That summer marked the end of my old life and the beginning of my new. 

It also marked the end of the nightmares that haunted me for years. I was free. 

What about you? Are you trapped in a futile attempt to be good enough, to change, to live the life God wants for you? Or have you given up trying? Recognizing our helplessness is the first step on the path of salvation. I pray you’ll take your battle to the cross and leave it there. 

For more information about how to have a relationship with God, CLICK HERE. If you already have a relationship with God, I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below and bless us all. 

I invite you to laugh with me at a clip from the original episode of Lucy and the Chocolate Factory, but don't miss the seriousness of the message behind this funny story. If you're reading by email and can't see the video, CLICK HERE.



This devotion is an excerpt from Lori’s new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women.

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• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

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  1. This is my favorite I Love Lucy... and you are so right! No matter how hard we try, we can never be GOOD ENOUGH.
    Thank God that JESUS IS ENOUGH!!
    So thankful that He loves me even when I am unlovable. Once I asked Him to save me the shedding of His blood on Calvary was enough. There are days when I feel so unworthy, but because of His love..... I will never be unworthy! Hopped over from Titus 2sdays!
    Thanks for sharing this!!

  2. I love that show.. Just don't make television like that anymore :(
    Great post!