This year has been challenging to say the least. So far, I have experienced the heartache of losing two beloved family members, the pain of a difficult ministry crisis, and the stress of an unexpected job transition. Add to that the recent financial strain of replacing our home air conditioning unit in the stifling August heat, and you have a recipe for bitterness. Life has been hurling lemons at me left and right, and I have been struggling to keep my mind focused on “things above.” Perhaps you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’ve felt like you had a target painted on your chest with a giant lemon-shooting bazooka gun aimed and ready to knock you off your feet. I realize that others have experienced more pain that I could ever begin to comprehend, and I don’t intend to minimize those circumstances. I have discovered, however, through personal experience, how easy it is to become bogged down in self-pity when you find yourself in the middle of one of life’s most disappointing moments. I’ve been in a season of life lately in which I felt like lemons were being propelled at me in rapid-fire succession. The saltiness of tears evoked by earthly struggles has made me crave the sweetness of things above. God’s work in my life has led me to believe that it is time to pick up those lemons, lift up my eyes to Him, and make some lemonade.
Sweetness flows into my life from multiple streams. The first is the truth of the Bible. As I meditate on God’s Word, I am reminded of who He is. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and merciful, among many other things. He promises to faithfully love me and never leave me whether I’m on the highest mountaintop or in the deepest valley. I have also experienced the sweetness of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ as they held me close during times of sorrow, lifted me up during moments of despair, and spoke life to me in periods of disappointment. I can’t help but taste sweetness as I observe the breathtaking beauty of God’s creation that surrounds me. I watch the way my Heavenly Father supplies even the smallest sparrow’s every need. He refreshes the earth with rain, and then places a rainbow in the sky to remind me that He is a promise keeper. At the end of each day He paints the sky with the magnificent colors of the sunset, and I am reminded of His awe-inspiring majesty.
Negativity abounds in the world today, and we often look around us and within ourselves for answers, rather than up to the One who holds all things together. My desire is to spend more time each day setting my mind on the “things above” as Paul instructs in Colossians 3:2. As I write and reflect, perhaps I can also encourage others to maintain a heavenly perspective. Life is filled with bitter trials, and we are not promised a full measure of sweetness until we reach heaven one day. As long as I’m on this side of eternity and equipped with strength that only God provides, I intend to run the race set before me, gather the lemons spread out along the path, and squeeze out every bit of bitterness into a cup that’s already overflowing with sweet blessings. I don’t know of a better recipe for making lemonade.