Unshakeable- Making Lemonade

iStock-1310291987Unshakeable- Making Lemonade

 

There’s not a person who hasn’t at one point in their life experienced some heartache. We’ve all shed tears. We’ve all felt pain. We’ve all encountered loss.
Every one of us have found ourselves in that place of suffering at some moment in time. That place where you can hardly seem to fake a smile. That place where you really don’t know how to move forward or in which direction you should even go.
When we find ourselves there, we must not try and avoid it. We must not ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, God’s invitation to us is to press in and to press through. That is what this blog series is all about: preparing you to stand strong, unshakeable, in the suffering which is inevitable.

Good Intentions But…

At one time, I was taught it’s always better to say something than to say nothing when you encounter someone who’s grieving. But, sometimes, the phrases that come out of our mouths, even with the best of intentions, hurt rather than heal.

Take, “Everything happens for a reason,” for example.

The mom whose teenager just committed suicide doesn’t want to hear that as she is mourning the loss of her child.

The family of a loved one suffering from an addiction probably doesn’t appreciate this sentiment.

Another example is when people remind those grieving that, “Everything that happens to us is for our good.”

When faced with someone who is sitting in grief, or when faced with trouble ourselves, we immediately try and comfort whomever it may be with these sayings. It’s almost always with good intention, and somewhat built around scripture, but it’s usually a bad interpretation of what the scripture actually teaches.

When we make statements like these, we’re assuming that God is the cause of this suffering. While we don’t say this directly, this is what is implied. We’re saying that all things, good and bad, were intentional for some abstract reason that we may never know. We’re saying that our suffering is supposed to be a good thing from God above.

And that just isn’t the case.

The Reality of Living in a Fallen World

Grief, loss, and uncertainty do not discriminate against any one of us. It doesn’t matter your age, how much money you make, your relationship status, your political persuasion, your geographical location, your favorite pastime, what family you were born into, or how you treat other people.

It doesn’t even matter if you love Jesus. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that those who follow Jesus would suffer.

C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”

Why must we all suffer and grieve in this life?

The short answer is because we live in a broken world made up of sinful humans. It is not because God is a puppet master bent on playing mind games.

The scriptures we typically think of that produce beliefs that “everything that happens to us is for our good” are Genesis 50:20, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good,” and Romans 8:28, “and we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.”

These scriptures do not imply that God causes or brings about suffering in our life for good purposes. What this means is that, when we are brought low in our affliction, God somehow reroutes or diverts what has caused us pain and proves that not even this can overcome his own goodness or sovereignty.

How God Makes Lemonades Out of Life’s Lemons

The simplest and most memorable way I can sum up a healthy, biblical understanding of God’s work in our suffering is this – when life hands us lemons, God makes lemonade.

Notice it is not when God hands us lemons, you go make lemonade. Instead, think of it this way: when life hands us lemons, God makes lemonade.

In our smallest inconveniences, God somehow makes lemonade. In our greatest hurts, God somehow makes lemonade. We don’t always understand. You don’t have to call every moment good or believe that this is for your good. But you can know that somehow God will take the lemons and make lemonade. He does this in, at least, three ways.

1. God Works in Us


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:2-5


The reason James can say this is simple: God does not waste our pain. God may not be the cause of any particular circumstance, but God can use our circumstance to strengthen us. James states that even though this may test your faith, it will build steadfastness for when the next thing comes, perhaps something more severe than this.

2. God Ministers Through Us


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5


God comforted them in their affliction. That’s often how we see God work in our suffering - God encourages us while we’re still enduring it. God can give us a very real peace, a sense of calm, a restful presence, even in the midst of affliction.

Moreover, Paul and Timothy were comforted in their suffering so that they might comfort others who are suffering. This was a work of God through them. In our affliction, God will often bring us comfort so we might share that comfort with others who are suffering.

3. God Prepares Something for Us


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18


After describing his own frailty, Paul makes it clear that he remains deeply encouraged in the Lord. Though his body is growing weaker, his heart, soul, and mind seem to be growing stronger in the process. And that’s one way that God diverts our suffering as well.

The momentary affliction of this life prepares for us an eternal presence of glory that is incomparable. Paul calls the believers to look toward and hope in what we cannot see.

The next time you find yourself in this place of suffering, I encourage you to remain unshakeable. I’ll leave you with the lyrics to the popular worship song “Hallelujah Even Here” by Lydia Laird.


Right now I feel a little overwhelmed
Right now I could really use some help
Right now I don't feel like it is well with my soul
I've tried to find a way around the mess
I've prayed in faith that the night would end
Right here when I just can't understand
I'll lift my hands
Hallelujah, when the storm is relentless
Hallelujah, when the battle is endless
In the middle of the in between
In the middle of the questioning
Over every worry, every fear
Hallelujah, even here