A couple weekends ago, I went with my mom and some other women in our family to a ladies retreat with the Mount Juliet Church of Christ. The theme of the weekend was “When Life Gives You Lemons.” My mom was actually one of the speakers, and she did too good of a job for me not to share some of her thoughts!
We all have lemons in our lives. Lemons are things like our struggles, burdens, and trials. We are even told in John 16:33 that we, as Christians, WILL have tribulations while we are in the world. Nobody is exempt from experiencing lemons. This begs the question of what to do with these lemons we are dealt. When lemons are left to rot, they become bitter, shriveled, and decayed. However, when lemons are used and added to water and sugar, the product is absolutely delightful.
One thing is for sure: God is in the business of making lemonade. He wants us to use our struggles, burdens, and lessons we’ve learned to help others. We don’t usually choose the lemons that are dealt to us. Things like disease or loss of a loved one can be placed in our lives, and these are things that we really can’t control. One thing that is truly beautiful, though, is that God can even use the lemons that we give to ourselves.
Our lemons can make us BITTER, or they can make us BETTER. King David is one of the greatest examples in showing how to turn lemons into lemonade. When David was chosen to be King of Israel, God described him as “a man after my heart” (Acts 13:22). David dealt a lot of lemons to himself by choosing to participate in adultery and murder. He could have chosen to throw all his lemons in a pile and allow them to sit there and rot, making him bitter. However, he chose to use his struggles and sins to do GOOD. He wrote most of the Psalms to record his attempts to overcome these lemons, which is one of my favorite books in the Bible!
The Apostle Paul suffered from imprisonment. Barabbas, who was a murderer, also suffered from imprisonment. Their lemons are identical. Barabbas was in prison for the poor choices he made. Paul was in prison for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. They were both dealt the same lemon. However, Paul chose to look at his lemon with joy and thankfulness (Philippians 1:14, 4:11)!
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned (and one that my mother has taught me) is to stop and pray to God, “Thank You, Father, for this trial.” It is so incredibly hard to be thankful for the pain and burdens in our lives, but one promise rings true: “we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Think of a beautiful, perfect rose. Do you know when happens when it gets crushed? It smells even BETTER and SWEETER. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
May we also smell sweeter when we are crushed. May we learn to thank God for the tribulations in our lives. And may we make lemonade out of all our lemons.