In the mood for lemonade!!?
Today I’ll show you…
…how to make lemonade
…what Winston Churchill, Commander Taggart, Carl Barth, Philipp Mickenbecker, Gregor von Nazianz, Émile Michel Cioran and Germaine de Staël have to do with each other
…and what a stone on a palm tree is good for.
Everyone knows lemons. Yellow and sour. Children contort their faces. If you bite heartily into a lemon in front of a trumpet player, it will be hard to keep playing… Sometimes you get handed a – soulful – lemon in life yourself…
Like me, many people all over the world are feeling at the moment: The current Corona situation weighs heavily on me for various reasons. Sometimes single news snippets or sentences from someone are enough to trigger bad feelings or thought spirals that constantly revolve around only one thing. This is reflected in little motivation for work, blog writing or other important things. It takes an endless amount of energy to get going. Actually, I don’t even want to think about some things, but I do it over and over again anyway. And that robs time, sleep and energy that I need for other things. This is my lemon, which makes life sour for me. My suffering. Some people might think, “What’s he doing?” “That’s nothing!” “There are much worse things!”. Yes, there are. There are people who suffer extreme pain due to illness, who have severe psychological problems, such as depression. People starve, are persecuted, tortured, killed, have serious accidents. Dear fellow human beings die. Everyone carries their own package of suffering in this fallen world. And just Corona, or actually all these government actions, have shown that people’s souls are vulnerable. And that you are in danger of breaking from things that you didn’t even think about before. It really doesn’t matter what suffering is involved: personal, community, society, physical, psyche, …
My lemon – when the fruit becomes dangerous
The sufferings are there. Period. The question is how to deal with it. I don’t want to sugarcoat or minimize anything. Certainly not. When someone is suffering, they need help. It’s just that sometimes, and not for everyone and in every situation, there comes a point when you start cultivating your lemons. And when they are nice and ripe and sour, then you pick them, choke them down and whine quite nicely. In other words, you can make yourself comfortable in your role as a victim and talk yourself into it (“Oh, Agador, I have to suffer so much”), your inner temptation becomes huge, you virtually wallow in suffering and can even use the whole thing nicely as an excuse to stop doing some things: I can’t come over – Corona worries. I don’t want to see friends – Corona worries. I don’t want to cook – Corona worries. And so on. Then: nobody wants to see me anymore. Everything is bad. At some point, it’s a self-fullilling prophecy. You fall into a self-pity trap. And that’s where it gets dangerous:
If you had a good excuse, you open the door for a bad one.Commander Vimes, “Thud!”, Terry Pratchett
The saying is true.
But whether you’re cultivating your suffering or you’re really miserable or anything in between: It’s time for you to turn that lemon into…
Probably you know the saying:
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of them.
Or the other version:
When life gives you lemons, ask for salt and tequila.
No matter which saying, this is exactly the change of perspective you need in such suffering situations. And because there are many smart people in this world, I’ll let them have their say here:
To suffer is to produce knowledge.Émile Michel Cioran, Romanian philosopher, 1911 – 1995
One must choose in life between boredom and suffering.Germaine de Staël, French writer, 1766 – 1817, Letter to Rochet, 1800
Let us not forget the fear of God in joy, and never give up hope in suffering.Gregor von Nazianz, Bishop of Nazianz, 329 – 389, Speeches
Through suffering, not past suffering, is the way to joy.Karl Barth, Swiss theologian, 1886 – 196
Or maybe you know Philipp Mickenbecker, who became famous on YouTube with his twin brother as “The Real Life Guys” and just recently – at not even 24 years old – died of cancer. He is someone who knew how to make lemonade out of the lemons in his life.
And of course, the Bible knows about people’s suffering – it’s full of stories like that. And it is the word of the one God who knows about everything and knows us best. It is precisely the Bible that gives us opportunities for a change of perspective:
So when you suffer, God wants to educate you. He treats you as His children. What son is not educated by his father and punished severely at some point?Hebrews12:7
For suffering makes us patient, but patience deepens and strengthens our faith, and that in turn strengthens our hope. But this hope does not come to nothing.Romans 12:3-4
This means: What we go through is not in vain. It has a purpose somewhere, it brings us to the goal. We can make the best lemonade in the world out of any of our lemons with God’s help! No matter if we have small or big, sour or less sour, real or just “cultivated” lemons!
And this fact brings me not up, but to the palm from the beginning:
A story from Africa*:
At the edge of the oasis there was a young palm tree in the best growth. It stung the eyes of a sinister man. Then he took a heavy stone and placed it in the middle of the crown of the young palm tree. The young palm tree shook and bent and tried to shake off the load. In vain. The stone sat too firmly in its crown.
Then the young tree clawed deeper into the ground and braced itself against the stone load. It sank its roots so deep that they reached the hidden water vein of the oasis. Then he lifted the stone so high that the crown reached beyond any shadow. Water from the depths and the sun’s heat turned the young tree into a royal palm tree.
After years, the sinister man came again to rejoice in the crippled tree he thought he had spoiled. He searched in vain. Then the magnificent palm tree lowered its crown, showed the stone and said, “I must thank you. Your burden has made me strong”.
I found it really good and inspiring. It helps me, with the change of perspective.
A classic recipe goes like this:
- 3 lemons
- 20 ml citric acid
- 500 ml water
- 40 g sugar
We have to slightly modify the spiritual one:
Instead of lemons, we look at the essentials:
Don’t let anything get in the way of prayer, and don’t forget to give thanks to God.Colossians 4:2
Therefore, bow down under God’s mighty hand. Then God will raise you up when his time comes. Unload all your cares to God, for he cares for you.1 Peter 5:6+7
If anyone is suffering among you, let him pray; if anyone is of good cheer, let him sing psalms.James 5:13
Instead of using citric acid to preserve soda, we “preserve” our lives through trust and obedience:
So let those who suffer according to God’s will not be dissuaded from doing good and entrusting their lives to their faithful Creator.1 Peter 4:19
Yes, I say it again: be courageous and determined! Do not be intimidated and do not be afraid! For I, the LORD your God, will stand by you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
Instead of pouring ordinary water, we take the water of life, so here are encouraging and refreshing Bible verses:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4
He will end your affliction, and we too will no longer have to suffer when Jesus, the Lord, appears for all to see.2 Thessalonians 1:7
He who touches you touches the apple of his eye.Zechariah 2:12
A very strong verse, I think!
When I cried out to you for help, you heard me and gave me new strength.Psalm 138:3
These are all promises that we may claim for ourselves!
Instead of sugar we take confidence:
The trials that have been put to your faith so far have not exceeded your strength. God is faithful to you. He will continue not to allow temptation to be greater than you can bear. When your faith is put to the test, God also provides the opportunity to pass it.1 Corinthians 10:13
But even if you have to suffer because you are living according to God’s will, consider yourselves fortunate. Therefore, do not be afraid of the suffering that people inflict on you, and do not be intimidated by them.1 Peter 3:14
What we have to suffer now does not last long. It is easily endured and brings us unending, unimaginable glory. Therefore, let us not be distracted by what is so visibly afflicting us at present, but let us fix our eyes on what is now invisible. For the visible things pass away, but the invisible things remain forever.2 Corinthians 4:17+18
Und einen echt beeindruckenden Moment einer “Limonadenmacherin” hat mir meine Frau gezeigt. Eine junge Frau bei America’s Got Talent, die gelernt hat, mit ihrer Krebserkrankung umzugehen: Hier geht’s zum Video.
Enjoying the lemonade
Of course we are allowed to enjoy our soda. This is certainly not always easy and the one or other lemon is extremely difficult to squeeze. Then we have to step aside and change our perspective and take a juicer to help us, so to speak – wants to say: We don’t have to go through everything alone! And when we follow the “spiritual” lemonade recipe, our thinking, our attitude, the mindset, our view of God, the world and our life changes. No matter how big your problems are: God is bigger! It may be sometimes that we have to bite into a sour lemon. Sometimes we will fall and lose. But then we have to get up again. To stand up once more, like falling down.
For encouragement, here are two quotes from men who should know:
Never, never, never give up!Winston Churchill
Never give up! Never surrender!Jason Nesmith aka Commander Peter Quincy Taggart
I wish you that you can think of the lime recipe in difficult situations and be encouraged by it!
* I do not know the exact source of the story. I found it in a Bible reading plan from ICF.