There is a saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In other words, perspective matters. How we choose to view a situation is vitally important. We control that perspective.
The apostle Paul, for instance, gives us a wonderful example of this. The Book of Philippians is a “prison epistle.” Paul is in jail, and he knows full well that any day the emperor Nero will call for his head. Yet, 33 times in Philippians, Paul addresses the subject of joy. In jail, but the joy is bubbling out of his life. Even a most cursory examination of the book makes clear that Paul is choosing the focus on the good that is coming from his situation. He has joy because the Philippians are partners with him in the gospel. He is honored that his chains have advanced the gospel, reaching the “whole palace guard” as Paul lives his life chained between two Roman soldiers. People are trying to destroy his ministry while he is incarcerated, but he is rejoicing that Christ is preached. Paul has Roman Citizenship, but he is rejoicing that his citizenship is in heaven. He rejoices that all of his needs are met, and is confident they always will be. He is taking lemons and making lemonade.
We are at a point in history where our perspective on situations is vitally important As I shared with you Sunday, 70% of people (in one survey) are saying that we are living right now in the most difficult time of history. And there are difficulties, and we are facing some unprecedented stressors. We must take the lemons and make lemonade, just like Paul did. The virus is serious, but we can rejoice that it still has a high survival rate. Many people are forced to work from home and deal with incredible loneliness, but we rejoice that they are employed. We can rejoice that when the props are knocked out from under people’s lives, that can be what causes them turn to the Lord. Levels of anxiety and depression are very high, but many are recognizing that Christ is the answer. And in our church, we need to rejoice that those that choose to can worship with us in-person, and we can also rejoice that those who are not ready to do that have excellent online opportunities.
My friend Stu Stull has an interesting take on these times. Just by way of background, Stu’s beautiful wife, Pat, went to be with the Lord after a long illness on March 9, and we did her funeral service on March 13. (Right at the time that we were looking at serious shutdowns.) Stu was exposed to COVID and had to go through a quarantine period. (Praise God, he did not get the virus.) Like many others, Stu has had to work from home for months. During this time, members of Stu’s family have weathered serious illnesses. Yet, on Thanksgiving, Stu had the following thoughts come to him: