It’s an old saying with timeless appeal: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
We smile at the wit and wisdom, but in truth, it’s easier to quote the saying than live the message. Life is generous in giving out lemons and often they remain so long that their withered presence threatens the same to our spirits.
What are the lemons you have been given? Is it loneliness or sickness? Have you been sorely disappointed by a shattered dream? Has a trusted friend betrayed you? A love left you? Have you incurred an overwhelming and unexpected debt? Does anxiety grip your soul? Has injustice touched you? Are you battling age or disability? Has death taken a loved one? The list of hardships is long and none of us is exempt from tasting at least one sour experience. But, if we are to be over-comers, our perspective and response matters.
What is it that transforms lemons into lemonade? When that acidic fruit is squeezed into water, it is diluted, but still tart. It’s not until the sweetness of sugar is added that we are able to drink it with gladness. So it is with the lemons of our lives. When hardships and sorrows are squeezed into our souls, we try to endure by watering them down with distractions. We busy ourselves with activities and diversions to keep from facing their reality, but still the taste of bitterness and dissatisfaction lingers. And it will unless we receive the crucial ingredient that brings sweetness to life. Our transformation comes only from Jesus.
There is not a burden, a hardship or sorrow He has not known and carried for us. Look at the words of Isaiah: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5
He did this for the love of us. He drank the full bitterness of our sin and poured redeeming sweetness into the lives of all who trust Him as Savior. The cruelty of the cross ~ the betrayal, the beatings, the suffering and agonizing death boasted that it had defeated Him and all hope, but evil’s best conquest was only a temporary celebration. It did not have the power to hold Him. Jesus rose from the grave and spoke the promise of His power to us: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
If the grave could not hold Jesus, and the victory of eternal life is promised to believers, what adversity can truly defeat us? John put the question this way: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” 1 John 5:5
Do you? If you put your faith in Jesus, the power of His Spirit will infuse the sweetness of eternity into the bitterness of life’s trials His promise assures us that in the hands of the Savior, lemons are nothing more than an element of life-giving refreshment.