Anyone besides me, feel like their timeline has been messed with? It’s like playing “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” as we struggle trying to find when something happened, “Was it before, or maybe during Covid… I don’t remember.” This and the economic and political climate. The moral downward spiral of our country. And personal happenings in our families. We’ve had a few rough years! Years that if we were honest, we could say—it changed us.
But in this time, I am confident we all have learned something new about God or something re-affirming about His character. What about learning something about ourselves? If we are truly honest, we’ve seen a strength, a challenge, a weakness or even maybe, a sinful life pattern.
Tough times are an opportunity to learn. An opportunity to grow.
A proverb is a stated truth or offering of advice. “Without wise leadership, a nation falls” (Pro 11:14a – couldn’t resist). There is one modern proverb familiar to us all, “When life gives you lemons—make lemonade.” When life comes at us fast. When the unknown stares us in the face. When life is bitter. Make—lemonade. Use it. Make something good out of it.
We have a choice. We can attempt to hide or run. We can ignore it all or deny it’s happening. Or we can position ourselves for opportunity. Joy-filled opportunity.
James talks about this, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT – emphasis mine).
Notice James emphasizes “let it grow.” Do-not-stop-the-process. Don’t stop it pre-maturely. In our current society, endurance (perseverance or steadfastness) is not a strong point. When things get tough, we bail out. We quit. We just sit down. Not to mention (but I will) how many of us have sabotaged the growth process because we knew it could be painful. It could be a boatload of emotional, physical, and spiritual work.
Joseph of the OT is a great example of making something good out of bitter lemons. His brothers (out of jealousy) threw him in a pit and later sold him as a slave (yup, bitter tasting). It gets even more sour for him; he is falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten. Rough times indeed. He himself didn’t grow bitter; he grew—better. What do I mean by that? Joseph embraced the process. Stayed obedient to his God. He didn’t let the trials ruin him.
Testimonies are birthed in trials.
God is a God of detail. He sees it ALL. Knows it all. I would offer, He says, “I can use this in your life, I can use it – if you will let Me.” Embrace and work the process. God used it all. All the ick. All the trying times to mature Joseph. He ultimately used Joseph to save Egypt in the big famine. He used Joseph to graciously restore his family. Remember what he said to his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20. Read his whole story, chapters 37-50). What would have happened if Joseph gave up in the middle of it all? (Point to Ponder).
James didn’t stop when saying, let it grow, the maturing process God is working in and through you, he continues; (I’m paraphrasing) “but if you lack wisdom in the process, you need help in handling the trials? Ask God for wisdom.” Wisdom is God-given and God-centered discernment regarding the practical issues in life. I’ve heard it said that true wisdom is applying God to my situation. The bible refers to Solomon as the wise guy, the guy who wrote all those wise proverbs. Why was he so wise? He asked for it (1 Kings 3:5-12; 2 Chron 1:7-12).
I am challenged by this. May we see each season with joy as an opportunity to learn and grow from it. May we not be lazy in the maturing process. Don’t stop. Let it grow! Seek God’s wisdom. I am not belittling ANY pain, but what we learn from THIS tough season, what is grown in us, we take into the next one. Jesus is enlarging our capacity for Him, enabling us to see HIM more clearly. Live Him more clearly —all for His glory!
When life gives you lemons (count it all joy) and make some lemonade!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24).
*There is so much more to be said, this is an excerpt from the teaching I brought at our June Women’s Breakfast at church. Each gal was given a “Joy Jar” to remember all that was shared, summarized, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
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