Have you ever heard the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!’ I heard it for the first time in 2002 from an older lady in college. See, I worked as a math tutor and she was a non-traditional student taking college courses after work. One afternoon, she came in wearing a sad countenance. Halfway into our session it became clear that her mind was elsewhere so I asked her if everything was alright. At this she apologized and told me she was thinking about her 9-year old son – how it hurt her that he was growing up without his father. She told me how she went from being a stay-at-home mom to having to go back to work, and is now taking college classes so she could get a better job and build a better future for her and her son. After she finished giving me a few more details about her divorce she said finished with, “my mom always says when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.
Friends, this phrase has become more prevalent in my thinking the last couple of weeks. Indeed, life has handed me some lemons lately. Yesterday, as I pondered the phrase, the Holy Spirit quickened me and used it to teach me 7 life lessons
Lesson 1: When
It is not a matter of if lemons (troubles) will show up, it is a matter of when they show up. Lemons in life are inevitable. Instead of hoping that lemons never show up in our lives, we are better served to prepare for those lemons. Prior preparation allows us to respond in love rather than react in fearfulness when trouble does come. This is where we want to be.
Consider that the prince and princess that rode off on a shiny white horse into the sunset in the fairy tale did not ride forever. The horse got tired and they had to get off the horse at some point – even if it was just for a bathroom break. So don’t dread the lemon, prepare for it. Whatever you are prepared to deal with is less daunting when it comes to pass. Moreover, be careful not to break off a fairy tale just because a lemon shows up in it.
In this life you will have trials and tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world – Jesus Christ
Lesson 2: Life
Lemons come from life. Most of the lemons we encounter in life come from our own or other people choices and decisions. Some lemons do come from what mother nature dishes out (i.e. natural disasters) but these are in the minority.
No matter where your lemon comes from, know that it does NOT come from God. God does not give lemons, God takes away or redeems lemons. Settle that in your spirit right now.
No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone – James (brother of Jesus)
Lesson 3: Gives
While it is true that life will give us lemons, it is not true that we have to keep possession of it. For example, unless you are a farmer, if given a pile of dung, are you likely to keep it? No, you are likely to throw is away or sell it. Even if you are a farmer, you are unlikely to keep the dung in your house but you will put it to good use. The same goes with a lemon of a car. You will not keep such a car but get rid of it.
Similarly, we should not keep possession of every lemon that comes our way – especially the rotten ones that serve no useful purpose. If your old friends have become lemons in your life, find new ones. If your hobby is killing you, find a new one. If the demands of your job is causing a major rift in your marriage, it’s a lemon, do something about it.
There are somethings given to us to posses, then there are others things given to us to transfer. God does not want us to merely take possession of lemons but wants us to do something with them. Ask Him what he wants you to do with the lemon you have. Is He calling you to take possession of the lemon or throw it away?
Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess – God the Father
Lesson 4: You
The lemons we have are trouble enough. We should not take possession of other people’s lemons.
Consider Joyce Meyer’s story: She is always very clear about the lemons that she had in her life – lemons she carried with her as a result of an abusive father and a cheating husband. Yet she is equally clear that Dave Meyer did not take possession of her lemons but stayed content while she wallowed for a while in self-pity.
In other words, we should not expect anyone else to take possession of our lemons and we should not try to give others our lemons
Furthermore, while playing the blame game makes us feel good, it does nothing to rid us of our lemons.
Cast your cares and anxiety on the Lord for He cares for you – Peter
Lesson 5: Lemons
Do not deny that the lemons in your life exists and do not meditate on them. Just as ignoring the lemons in your life will do nothing to give you rest, meditating on your lemons will do nothing but give your lemons power over you. Accept that the lemons exist but also accept that there is a God greater than your lemons. Lemons are simply opportunities for God to show off in your life when you give them to him.
We walk by faith (trusting and believing in God) and not by what we see – Paul
Lesson 6: Make
The first thing we tend to do when we receive a lemon is to pray to God to take it away. Then if God does not take it away, we may blame God for not taking it away or we blame ourselves for either being too sinful or not having enough faith to get rid of it. Friend, if God does not take away the lemon, it is because he wants you to do something with it. If all lemons were simply taken away then we would not have lemon meringue pie or lemonade would we?
When life gives you lemon as an ingredient, do not get mad. Ask God what he wants to create from the lemon and get moving.
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours
Lesson 7: Lemonade
To make lemonade out of lemons requires three things: (1) squeezing the lemon juice out (2) diluting the lemon with water (3) stirring in sugar or honey.
To squeeze the lemon means to sift out the life lesson the lemon is there to teach us. For me, after cutting one of my biggest lemons, I found out that fear and pride was the juice hiding within the cleverly packaged exterior of security and independence. If I had been afraid to squeeze the juice out, I would have missed out on growing.
To dilute the lemon juice is to attack the problem area with the word of God. For example, if the lemon juice is sickness, it is time to focus on healing scriptures. If it is pride, the book of Daniel may be a good place to start. As we read the word of God on purpose we realize that juice is not as bitter as we once thought as we understand there is a solution. Magically the juice becomes more palatable
To stir in honey is to start moving in accordance to the will of God. As we do that, what was meant to bring a bitter taste in our lives starts to taste sweet.
So friends, let us commit to turn a few drops of bitter and tart juice into a cup of delicious and enjoyable lemonade.
When life gives you bitter lemons, do not worry, but turn to God and He will help you make sweet lemonade out of it – Emmanuel