The last time I was in Kansas City, I made a stop at Trader Joe’s. I sampled some delicious grapes, and they were so tasty I decided to buy a cluster. The quality of the grapes influenced my decision to buy some nearby peaches: Bad decision. There was nothing to savor in the way of flavor.
In retaliation for the tasteless peaches, I could have launched a tirade on Facebook, and Trader Joe’s would have received their just desserts. Instead, I asked my wife to use the peaches for just dessert and make a cobbler.
Unfortunately, life is full of not-so-peachy moments. Because Paul experienced many of these times, I often look to him for advice: “We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” ~The Message
One of the defining characteristics of Paul’s life was his ability to make lemonade out of his many lemon-like trials: “Five times I have withstood thirty-nine lashes from Jewish authorities, three times I was battered with rods, once I was almost stoned to death, three times I was shipwrecked, and I spent one day and night adrift on the sea (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).”
Here’s the lemonade: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” ~The Message
If you go through life just focusing on the sourness of the pits and the trials, you’ll never notice the abundance of sweet fruit. Paul said the pain of the here and now is manageable when you remember to frame it in the pleasure of the there and then or the “lavish celebration” God has prepared for you.