From lemons to lemonade

My mom’s neighbor has a lemon tree in her backyard. She gave us a bag of these super-sized lemons, and my daughters wanted to make homemade lemonade.

Home-grown lemons

We loosely followed this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, but we added an additional ½ cup lemon juice and about a ¼ cup more sugar.

Throwing all the ingredients in the blender for a few seconds gave the lemonade a nice frothy layer on top. Yum!

Making lemonade

Figuratively speaking, we’ve all heard the pep talk about turning lemons into lemonade. Sometimes it’s not easy.

I’ve been struggling with a difficult situation for a year. A whole year. That’s a lot of time on my knees, asking God to change the situation, or change my attitude, or both.

It all stems from family drama last Thanksgiving. Drama that’s ebbed and flowed throughout the year. I’ve struggled so much that I almost don’t know how to pray anymore.

As I looked back at my posts from last year, I found a verse in Romans 8 that I leaned on.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that our small group lesson in church this morning was from Romans 8.

There are so many good verses in this chapter that I almost don’t know where to begin. I’ll start with the ones that jumped out at me this morning:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8: 26, 27)

When words run out, the Holy Spirit steps in. He prays on our behalf when our own tide of prayers isn’t enough. What an amazing thought — God interceding for us!

So much of the conversation at church this morning centered on suffering. Friends in our small group are going through serious trials – illness and facing the loss of loved ones. They’re hurting and wondering how their situations will play out, when they will end.

But we also talked about the fact that God is with us in the darkest moments. How He holds us close when we are hurting. How trials produce fruit that couldn’t have come any other way. Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 5:14:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever.

Some struggles are physical. Others are relational or emotional. Throw in financial troubles and other situational difficulties, and you’ve got a whole host of trials to choose from. But all struggles have this in common. We have a Helper, God’s promised Holy Spirit.

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:5)

We don’t face the trials alone. God goes with us. And while He doesn’t give us a blueprint of how long or how intense the struggles will be, He gives us something better.

He gives us Himself.

Let’s talk: What trials are you facing? Have you experienced God’s nearness in the midst of suffering?

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