The Liability of Lemon-Sucking

One of the toughest days of my life found me in a diner in Dalton, Georgia. I was nineteen years old and one week into my first summer of college. I was a thousand miles from home. I was sleeping at the Salvation Army shelter where, the night before, an inebriated guy on the bunk above mine rolled over and puked. If homesickness was water, I was soaked to the bone.

On the promise of fast cash and new sights, I’d joined up with two friends and signed on to sell books door to door. My friends went home during sales school. I was all alone. I went to work and made this discovery: no one likes a door to door salesman. My first day was miserable.

“Hello, I’m Max…” Slam.

“Hello, I’m Max…” Slam.

“Hello, I’m Max…” Slam.

Day number two wasn’t any better. I was lower than a snake’s belly. At lunch, I dragged myself into a diner, nursed my bruised ego and ate a hamburger. As I was paying my bill, I spotted a display of magnetized, rubberized truisms adjacent to the cash register. One was yellow, shaped like a lemon and contained these words: “When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.”

The slogan was folksy, corny, and homespun. But I had never heard it. And it was just enough to convince me to keep at the job. I bought the magnet and affixed it to the dashboard of my ’73 Plymouth Duster. Whenever I got discouraged, I would rub my thumb over the rubber lemon and remind myself: “I can make myself miserable or I can make myself some lemonade.”

People still slammed doors and I still wondered what in the world I was doing so far from home. But I survived.

It’s been forty years since that day in the diner. Much has changed. But this much hasn’t: life still gives lemons.

Of course, my prospects of a miserable summer are nothing compared to the lemons you’ve been handed. Just this week, I spoke with an elderly woman whose husband has been diagnosed with dementia. She needs to take away his car keys. I spoke with a young mom of a newborn who can’t remember her last good night of sleep. She wonders if she has what it takes to raise kids. I spoke to a middle-aged man who is reeling from the consequences of a divorce. He wonders if he’ll ever have a happy family.

Life still gives lemons. Life gives lemons to good people, bad people, old people, all people. Life comes with lemons.

But we don’t have to suck on them.

The Apostle Paul has a better idea. “…you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious–the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8)

What lemons have fallen into your world? Suck on them and you’ll turn sour. Adhere to Paul’s words, and you’ll find the lemonade refreshing.

© Max Lucado, August 2016


14 comments on “The Liability of Lemon-Sucking

  1. Thank you, Max Lucado.
    It’s faith at work when you fully trust in an ever-present, loving and merciful God, and I love lemons, truly do: He turns it into the best lemonade just for you.

  2. Thank you, Max Lucado.
    It’s faith at work when you fully trust in an ever-present, loving and merciful God, and I love lemons, truly do: He turns it into the best lemonade just for you.


  3. This is wonderful Max! Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about you! I was on your Alaska cruise and was so blessed to be there and enjoy it! Thanks so much!! Susan Jane Whisman

  4. Thanks for sharing Max. Tired of fighting for things that are precious to me.I just have to let go…don’t have to suck on the lemons..change the way I think…

  5. Thank you Pastor Max! My family is currently going through a crisis. My dad has labyrithitis and a benign tumor that has to be removed, and my mom is being atacked at her job and because of all the stress she’s also been feeling ill. Those are our lemons right now, but tonight we gathered as a family to pray to God for our needs and also for our relatives and friends, and we’ll keep doing it these following days. We’re gonna turn our lemons into lemonade!
    God bless you so much.

  6. Thank you; I needed this Just Right Now! Everytime I see another lemon come my way these past two years I remind myself that I believe God will use all things for my good. I’m still in the middle part where I am walking in that faith and so looking forward to the day I can look back and see his work revealed. He showed me an example tonight, through your words. I laughed as I realized the beautiful irony; because he took that lemon of your time selling books and turned it into a life of selling your books that have touched so many for his kingdom. In a way you never left that job; so sweet!
    With appreciation from this Dalton, Georgia born and raised girl still living in faith now in Anchorage, Alaska.
    Lorie Hardin-Morris

  7. Very well said. Max Gof has given a candid gift of communicating so well with your audience. Life does come with lemons. I don’t have to sick on them. Be blessed

  8. Thank you for the words of wisdom … Love all your works, LOVE Hermie , so does my grand-daughter,, She has watched Hermie since she was two and a half years old, she is now 13 years old. Wish we could see you more often….God Bless…..

  9. Lots of insight there, pondering it. Thank you. Love up words thinking and living, with the lemons making the lemonade. Such is our journey of life, as we take it one day at a time now. Much love and gratitude.

  10. Max, thank you for opening my eyes about lemons. Yes, they are sour, yet make wonderful lemonade. I too, find myself sucking on lemons in this life. My frame of thinking will change after reading this, I prefer to make lemonade from this point forward. I read your daily devotions every day and WOW, they hit home and are so inspiring.
    Thank you, may God continue to bless you and your ministry.

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