“Go suck a lemon!”
Have you ever heard anyone say that?
It means they’re annoyed with you and want you to experience something unpleasant. Lemon juice is so sour that it makes your mouth pucker.
But if lemon juice is so bitter, why are lemon desserts so yummy?
It’s thanks to the addition of a sweetener.
I like lemon-based desserts much better than orange-flavoured ones. It seems to me that the combination of sour and sweet is what makes lemon desserts so satisfying (see below for Lemon Poppyseed Cake recipe).
They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
No, when life hands you lemons, turn it over to God.
He can transform your unwelcome experiences into something good, and make the bitter waters of your life sweeter than any lemonade.
The children of Israel found this out on their way into the wilderness after being miraculously freed from bondage in Egypt.
After travelling for three days without finding water, they were very thirsty. The people came across an oasis at Marah, but their relief soon turned to disappointment when they discovered that its waters were too bitter to drink.
They complained to Moses, who beseeched God for a solution. God told him to throw a certain log or tree branch into the water. When Moses did so, the waters of Marah miraculously became sweet. (Exodus 15:22-26)
We see the same concept in the book of Ruth, where the word Marah, meaning bitter, crops up again.
Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi had suffered the loss of her husband and two sons. Returning to her homeland, she told the people who had come to greet her:
“Do not call me Naomi (sweetness); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has caused me great grief and bitterness.” (Ruth 1:20)
Naomi was so embittered that she didn’t even want to be called by her former name anymore. She thought there would be no more sweetness in her life. But God had a trick up His sleeve.
God arranged for Ruth to meet and marry a well-to-do landowner named Boaz. The couple had a son, whom Naomi eagerly took care of. Her friends said:
“He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” (Ruth 4:15)
Her grandson would become the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David; his line would eventually produce the Messiah, Jesus.
So Naomi’s life became sweet again after all!
God can do the same for us.
We often face Marah situations in life. They may be failed expectations, bitter disappointments, or bewildering setbacks.
But when we encounter our own Marah, we shouldn’t become bitter ourselves. Rather, we should trust that God will meet our needs and eventually bring something good out of our situation.
You may have realized something about the branch or log thrown in the water in the story of the Israelites at Marah. That tree is a picture of the Cross.
Through Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, the bitter fruit of our sins can be turned into the sweetness of redemption.
We can receive help from God during difficult times on Earth, and the promise of eternal life with Him in Heaven.
As the hymn goes, “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!”
Lemon Poppyseed Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated and finely chopped lemon rind (about 2 lemons’ worth)
1/8 cup poppyseeds
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter and flour an 8” square glass pan.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon rind, and poppyseed together in a bowl.
Cream the butter with the sugar, then add the eggs.
Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture. Blend, then mix in the lemon juice.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean (the top of this cake won’t get terribly golden.)
Let cake cool, then prepare glaze, if desired:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or just enough to make mixture spreadable
1 cup icing sugar
Mix together well, then spread over cooled cake.
© 2023 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.