The Marshmallow Test

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭

What’s better than a marshmallow around the fire?

Two marshmallows around the fire, of course.

Years ago, Oprah had a special guest on her talk show to illustrate the marshmallow principle. Which went something like this:

Several children were presented with a marshmallow. They were informed that they could in fact eat the marshmallow that was being offered – but that if they could wait for fifteen minutes, they could have two marshmallows.

The test was being touted as a predictor of future success. Apparently, those children who could delay gratification to gain a greater reward were more likely to go on to pretty sweet things – like higher paying jobs, more effective goal-setting potential, and greater achievements than their peers who were all in for temporary and immediate satisfaction.

So of course I tried it on my own kids.

One waited patiently for the second marshmallow to appear. One gobbled the wee white appetizer in seconds. Both seem to be fairly successful and able to set and meet goals so far in their mid-twenties – so the jury is out on whether the marshmallow test is actually any sort of accurate predictor of future potential.

But generally speaking, the ability to defer immediate gratification for long term gain is basically the life of faith, is it not?

Turning away from the one sweet treat in front of you in order to gain a deeper, bigger, more intense future of glory – well, that can be a challenge, no?

Because in this case, heaven is – well, invisible. It’s a lovely carrot to dangle – but there’s a bit of a catch 22 inherent in the proposal.

You have to die to cash in.

Yeah. I know.

A bit of a downer, that.

But the benefits of a life lived in pursuing Jesus are many – besides the immensely beautiful promise of life in perpetual paradise to come, we can live with the assurance of God’s provision, presence, and hope as we middle through all the marshmallows that are presented to our view down here.

There are lots of marshmallows displayed around us. Lots of short term shortcuts. Lots of lures to the easier road, the more popular direction.

But they don’t lead to the true reward.

Are you waiting for the better, and turning down the okay to ensure your hands are open enough to grasp the more that is waiting?

It can be very tempting to settle. To sell out.

To just take the dang marshmallow.

But sometimes, we are asked to wait. To hang out in the ‘not yet’. To slow down in the middle of one chapter in order to gain the promise of the next. And it can be tough! It’s hard to wait on a dream, hard to hold out for the invisible when the tangible is so close to our fingertips.

Are you waiting, friend? Are you beginning to doubt the reward at the end of your trial?

Hang in there.

God is at work. He is still in control. What He had promised will arise – in His timing, for His purposes, for your good.

Wait patiently during this marshmallow test with me?

Father, You are good. You have so many good and glorious promises planned for Your children. Bless us with patience as we wait for what is Your best and turn aside from what is lesser. Amen.

Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at, and my poetry is stashed at Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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