We’ve all heard the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I’ve always liked that saying and definitely like lemonade. But this statement implies that we are to rely on ourselves. In our study of James, the trials we face produce fruits of faith, perseverance and trust in God.
“Blessed” speaks of the distinctive religious joy that is a benefit of salvation. This word describes the enviable state of the person who does not give up when confronted with trying circumstances but remains strong in faith and devotion to God. Enduring difficult circumstances in our lives (trials or tests) is the ability to remain under tremendous weight and pressure without succumbing. Part of God’s purpose in allowing our testing, is to produce good character in His children. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
“Stood the test” suggests the process of successfully testing precious metals and coins and their consequent approval as genuine. Perseverance under trial results in approval, and approval results in “the crown of life.” Although “crown” may designate a kingly crown, it more often refers to the crown given to a victorious athlete—a wreath of laurel, oak, or even celery. For James, this word refers to the reward given to believers who are victorious in their struggles against trials. This life “that God has promised” is more than the eternal life given to every believer at the time of his or her salvation. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24). Since it is a reward for an accomplishment subsequent to initial faith, it must refer to a still higher quality of life.
We were asked in the study to think back to our list of trials from the previous week, and asked what it would look like to remain steadfast in these trials. First, I looked back over my list. I boiled down the list to a running theme:
- I am broken and am unable to fix my brokenness
- I try to take on more than I’m able to do on my own
- Because of 1 and 2, I’m left feeling defeated, overwhelmed and unable to build myself up, which leaves me feeling that I am not enough.
In order for me to remain steadfast through these trials, I must lean on God and His promises instead of my own abilities, which are finite. My Lord is infinite – the beginning and the end. He and He alone can take my brokenness and use me – yes, even me – to His greater purpose. If I give it all over to Him and get out of the way, He can work to His greater good. I only need to be a willing and faithful vessel. The Lord will bless me for continuing to give all my trials to Him and lean on Him for His wisdom and direction. And I must remember that despite my brokenness, I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.
We were then asked how to add this verse to our previous plan of attacks. (See Faith When Tempted) I chose: “Thank the Lord for the reward that He will give us in Heaven. For that reward is better than anything we can receive here on earth. Thank Him for sending us the Holy Spirit to be with us so that we can discern His voice from all other voices. Thank Him for loving us more than we have ability to comprehend.” In my prayer time and studies, I’m being shown that giving adoration and thanksgiving to God (even in difficulty) is one of ways to gain a closer walk with the Lord.
Back to making lemonade out of lemons. 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.