When life gives you lemons, it has been suggested that you go and make lemonade, sell it in a little booth for 10 cents a cup and make the best of the circumstances. Sounds easy, right? It is. Making lemonade is rather simple. I used to work at Chick-Fil-A where I spent countless hours squeezing lemons, adding sugar, (or Splenda, whichever you prefer) and mixing it with water, and selling it for $2.00 a glass or almost $8.00 per gallon. Crazy, huh? But man if the taste of that stuff isn’t addictive. But what happens when life gives you something else??? Something that’s going to take a little more persistence, more adjustment, and simply more grit than just mixing some sugar water with a little bit of lemon juice?
The unexpected is what I believe scares people the most. It’s an eerie feeling walking through a forest or the woods when it’s dark, simply because you don’t know what’s going to jump out and surprise you. We worry (especially in our economy today) about losing our jobs. We worry about losing loved ones. We worry about the health and safety of our children when we’re not around. We struggle with the unknown, the unexpected. So how do we handle situations where our fears come to fruition? More importantly, how does our relationship with Christ and our faith encourage and enable us to handle the unexpected?
A well-known verse to look at is Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Have you ever run across one of those Christians who believe everything is going to be okay? You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who don’t seem to really connect with you and understand what you are going through. All they say is, “I’ll be praying for you and I know things will get better,” or, “Just keep your focus on God and everything will be okay.” It’s annoying, right? Most of the time we just want someone to listen to us and feel a little empathy for us. But as cliche as these sayings sound, these people aren’t off the mark at all. Being optimistic is a great characteristic to obtain. As Christians, we shouldn’t be optimistic about our talents, skills, or abilities, we become optimistic because we serve a God who has a plan bigger than what we see. He has something greater for us than anything we could ever dream up on our own.
I believe that our ability to handle the unexpected circumstances that are thrown our way is rooted in how much we truly believe Jeremiah 29:11; in how much confidence we have in His plans.
We often use the word hope very loosely. “I hope I get that job promotion,” or “I hope the test comes back negative,” or “I hope I am wrong.” Hope is defined as “to expect with confidence,” but we actually use it more as a cry of desperation or with little to no confidence at all.
A certain level of Faith comes into play as we analyze this scripture in Jeremiah. As we take a leap of faith in God and believe that He truly doesn’t want to harm us and that his plans are for us to prosper, our hope in his promises begins to grow. Our confident hope begins to grow and our desperation hope begins to diminish.
The first leap of faith is usually the hardest.
I glean from what Timothy Willard and Jason Locy have to say about the first leap of Faith in their book Veneer.
“Becoming Intimate with God feels a lot like jumping from Panther Falls at night, naked. We stand there contemplating the whole thing. Making sure we jump in the right place so we don’t hit the rocks below. A sense of nervous excitement fills our bellies. But if we don’t take the first step toward the edge, we miss the point of the trip. We have to jump. But it’s not just the jump that’s so invigorating. It’s falling from the cliff in the pitch of night, screaming with fright and glee until we hit the water, plummeting from the familiar to the unknown. The cold, the impact, the immediate change of the underwater world – there, time freezes as the exhilaration of the jump courses through our veins. For a moment, the darkness of the underwater word holds us. People often say that faith is like stepping into the unknown, stepping off a cliff. And for those of us who do jump, we experience significant change. We surface, gasping for air, and then tread silently in the dark water. We are reborn, again, – children playing under the watchful eye of the God who whispers to us, “Do it again,” And we do; we climb in the darkness, up the cliff, freezing, wet, and fully alive. We go through the same steps, and though we’ve done it before, a tinge of fear remains and we can’t wait for it to overwhelm us. This time we don’t step off; we leap. There is darkness. There is the fall. There is the hard impact with the water. But there is now also a knowing. Not a knowing in the sense that we fully understand the water or the darkness or the fall but rather a knowing that unfolds. We anticipate the healthy fear of the leap, the excitement of falling into what we can’t fully see, and the joy of a new underwater world.”
The more we put our faith in God and trust in his plan for us, the more we hunger for more. The more hope we develop in his promises for us to prosper, the easier it is to let God take the reigns in our life.
There are many times in our lives where something doesn’t quite happen the way that we planned or the way we wanted it to go. But as our faith and our hope develop, we begin to understand and see the goodness that God instills in each circumstance and situation in our lives.
We will never understand the fullness of what God is doing in our lives. If we take to heart Jeremiah 29:11 and trust in him and what he is doing, we will find that our hope in him becomes abundant and we’ll slowly begin to encounter the joy in God with every circumstance that is thrown our way, good or bad. Keep pressing on and put your hope and faith in the plans of the Lord. We may not always get thrown the expected lemon to make lemonade, but when we trust in the Lord, we may just make something that’s sweeter and more refreshing than anything we could ever sell for .10 cents a cup!
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