Polish Your Cell
When Life Hands You Lemons
The old saying is that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. More recently the adage has changed to when life hands you lemons, you add salt and tequila. Either version if really workable. Sometimes we find ourselves in good places in our lives and then others, we find ourselves in places that require some thoughtful reflection and a determination not to quit. It is in those trying times that we learn who we really are. I always say, character is formed in the face of adversity. I fully believe that. If we did not go through trials, we could not grow and learn just what we are capable of achieving.
Polish your jail cell
Polish your jail cell
“Life is not fair”…okay, how many times in our lives have we heard that? How many times more, have we been the ones saying it? Well, I am here to let you know that even though life is not fair, it’s okay. No one ever promised you life would be fair. Let’s take a look at a few people in history that didn’t have a very fair shot in life, but they weathered quite nicely.
First of all, let’s take a look at a man named Job. Wow, was life ever unfair to him! Job loved the Lord with all his heart, and one day Satan wanted to test Job’s love for God. So what did God do? He said “okay”, seriously God was going to allow this man who loved him wholly to be tested? Yes he did. How is that for fair? Keep in mind, this test was more than most people would have ever been able to withstand. Job lost his family, literally his children died, he lost his crops, his stock, everything! Then when everything he owned was gone, Job lost his health. Things just kept getting worse and worse for him. All his friends, well the four that still came around, insisted that Job had done something terribly bad for God to punish him so. Through it all, Job stayed faithful to his Lord. He thanked him, can you even imagine to thank God for taking away everything you own, including your health? Yet in the end, Job passed the test with flying colors, and God restored him.
We could look at King David, even though he was not exactly the king at the time. How fair was it for him to be chased in the wilderness for so long by Saul who wanted to kill him, and all for what, envy? Young David had done nothing but find favor with the folks around town, with the men of the army he served with, with Saul’s son Jonathan, and even with God. So Saul was jealous and wanted to kill David. Would it be very fair if we just run around and try to kill everyone that we were jealous of? Maybe they got the job you wanted, the house you want to live in, the car you planned to drive around town, or even the lover that your heart desired. I still don’t know if that would justify just chasing them around and killing them. So how did young David handle this little situation? Well, he ran. He ran a lot for a long time, but he had an opportunity to kill or just harm Saul during this time, yet he refrained. As unfair as he was being treated, and as much as he could not understand why this had to happen to him, he just kept doing what was right. In the end, Saul was destroyed in battle, not at the hands of David though. And David eventually became King of Israel, and is now referred to “a man after God’s own heart”. You see for all the bad that happened to David, and all the wrong things that he had done, he always felt remorse and tried to do better next time.
We could consider the story of Daniel. Young, strong, and handsome, Daniel was taken captive when he was just a teenager. He was made to work in the palace of the King of Babylon, the very man who had taken captive his people. Daniel had it all going for him, his youth, his good looks and all he was set in his home land; he probably had his pick of all the girls in town. Yet there was life with its unfair twist of fate, and now he is instead a prisoner of the king. He did have the three Hebrew children with him and they did the best they could. When asked to partake of the “King’s portion” of food, they four of them vowed to not defile themselves and they stood strong. But somehow out of the unfairness of the circumstances, Daniel and his three Hebrew mates, found favor with the staff of the King’s court, and eventually even so with the king. So he took a bad situation and through his faith and his diligence to serve his Lord, Daniel has become one of the most revered and favored prophets of the entire bible. Not too bad for a kid taken captive, huh? How would you have handled the whole being kidnapped by the unruly king thing?
But now I would like to take a moment to ponder over the story of one of the most unfairly treated people in the history of the bible. Joseph. We have to start his story about what a brat that kid was! Yes he was well loved by his father Jacob, and he did have that colorful coat that he bragged about all the time. So, it’s understandable that the older brothers were pretty sick of all his “being perfect”. And as siblings do, they wanted to really teach that boy a lesson. Well, maybe they went a bit far though, I mean, did you know they pushed him into a pit, not just a ditch, and a deep pit, to leave him for dead? Well, it just so happened though, that some folks from Egypt were coming by and instead of leaving him for dead, they just decided to sell him to the Egyptians. Nothing like selling your little brother into slavery to get back at him for being a brat! So in order to get by with what they had just done, they tore off his coat and tore it into pieces and covered it with blood of an animal so they could go back and tell their father he had been killed by a wild animal. Now how fair was that for poor Jacob to grieve his young son, whom he now believed had been savagely mauled and was now dead? As time goes on, Joseph lives out his life in Egypt. So guess what Joseph did with his time as a slave? Well, he did his job, and he sang and he worshipped the Lord. Seriously, I guess he figured he could do nothing to get out of this mess his brothers had gotten him into, so he was joyous in his work. I honestly can’t say that I would be so grateful to be stuck in his shoes. As time went on, guess what? You guessed it; Joseph gained favor with Potiphar and his top brass. So Joseph eventually became quite important there in Egypt, was given responsibilities and all. He was even in charge of important things like food distributions and the like. So for a while things were going good for Joseph, considering his unfair way to get where he was. But like everything in life, all good things must come to an end; the wife of Potiphar had taken a liking to Joseph. Well, he was young, handsome, and strong. After all, isn’t that what all women look for in a man? So, she decided to try her luck. Well, despite his youth and overwhelming good looks, young Joseph was faithful to his Lord. He knew what she was asking was wrong, and he denied her advances, and you know what they say about a woman scorned? You guessed it, she told Potiphar that he had tried to “attack” her and have his way with her, but she fought against him. Despite all the favor Joseph had gained, a claim of that nature could only land him in one place. Young Joseph was put in a prison cell, accused of something he did not even do. I would fully expect and understand him to really give up, or at the very least, throw a big old fashioned baby fit! But low and behold, guess how Joseph handled this new trial? He polished his cell!! Seriously, he polished his cell every day, while he sang and whistled and thanked God. Now really, how can anyone be locked in a cell for a crime they didn’t even commit, and want to clean the place up, let along sing and be thankful? Okay, beats me too, yet that is what he did. He sang and polished, until one day the jailer let him start getting out so he could clean the rest of the cells and everything in the prison. In just a matter of time, Joseph was running the jail himself! You see, he didn’t let his circumstances beat him; rather he allowed them to build him up. With a joyous heart, he overcame the odds, and was once again in favor with the Pharaoh and helping run Egypt! Wow, if only we could all see that much light at the end of our tunnels.
Okay, I must also share the best part of Joseph’s story, it is the part that I find more amazing than any other part of his story. At a time when Joseph was in care of many things in Egypt, one of those was the rationing of food during the famine. For people to get food to eat they had to go to Joseph and he would hand out the food for each family to get them through. During the famine, families in Israel had to come into Egypt for food, and one day a group of brothers showed up in Egypt to try and get food. Now how do you think Joseph handled that? The very brothers that sold him into slavery, told their dad he was dead, and left him on his own for so many years were there right before him, and begging for food to get through the famine, no less. I think that many people would have seen a golden opportunity to get some much deserved revenge! So what do you think he did? Well, the story says he kissed them on the neck, and tearfully told them he loved them! Seriously, after all they did, he forgave them and said he loved them? Yes, that is exactly what he did. Could you be so forgiving? I do not know that I would, but it would certainly be nice to think so.
So whatever circumstances you happen to be in now, no matter how unfair life seems to be to you, polish your jail cell. No one ever promised you life would be fair, but then if you think of what these guys went through, can it really be that bad, what you are enduring? Because remember, the trials, we endure for a season, then comes a time of rejoicing. So sing in your cell, polish your cell, give thanks for your cell, and know that you will come out stronger, smarter, and better for having been there. Stay faithful and allow God to bless you in your trial. Keep the faith, beloved.