Written by Renee Dugan, a STF-International staff member

Once upon a time, God ran a lemonade stand unlike any other: you bring the lemons, and He makes the lemonade.

Contrary to what is widely expressed in Christian literature, popular hymns, and from most pulpits on a Sunday morning, God is not in control of everything. Tornadoes and floods, miscarriages and illnesses, deaths and disasters are not the result of some cosmic joke played by a Creator growing bored after an infinity of overseeing the universe. It would take much longer than a blog post to cover all the evidences of how God is not responsible for the sufferings of mankind. So a better question might be: what does God do about it?

This is where the lemonade comes into play.

Imagine that the sufferings we face are lemons. They’re handed to us by the freewill choices of ourselves and others; they’re the fruit of living in a fallen world; they’re the mutated byproducts of the mass manipulation caused by of the god of this age, the Serpent who is the true source of the sickness, suffering, and death we see around us. By no means are they plucked from the Tree of Life…but here we have them anyway, a bushel full of sour citrus sufferings. What do we do with them?

One of the most powerful ways we can face our tribulations in this dark age is to take them in prayer to God. This is akin to taking our lemons to God’s lemonade stand and saying, “Here’s what I’ve got. Can you make something of it?” This requires more of us than merely dwelling in our woes…we take an active role. We acknowledge that something is wrong, and we ask Someone greater than us to show us what can be done about them.

Especially when we’re knee-deep in the sheer awfulness that comes with living in a cursed world, it can be difficult to see how our trials can be made into something sweet. There doesn’t seem to be enough spiritual sugar to mend a cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a much-needed job. But that’s the beauty of serving a Creator who sees so much farther than our mortal gaze can reach. When we take our mourning to God, he can turn it to dancing (Psalm 30:11). He can deliver from illness; he can mend broken spirits, broken bodies, broken hearts. He can bring a friend along to remind us that we do not face our struggles alone. When the unseen circumstances in the physical and spiritual realms prevent a miraculous turnaround in our circumstances, we have a God who sits beside us on the sidewalk in the pouring rain and grieves with us. And we have a God who, through it all, is inarguably and untiringly working for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

Sometimes God requires more of our hands than we may expect to move mountains in our own lives. It can be difficult, stressful, sometimes downright unpleasant even just to walk out a trial and wait for the rainbow after the rain; doing the work of a perfect One when we ourselves are imperfect isn’t always enjoyable. And it often requires waiting for His timing when our impatient hands want to wrap around a solution now, right now. We see our circumstances of the moment and panic; God sees the whole matter and says, “I’ve got you.” And sometimes the only thing we can do is lash ourselves to the mast, ride out the waves, and praise God in the storm,