Materials needed: lemons, pitcher of water, sugar, paper cups, and wooden spoon for stirring.
Tell children that you have something special for them to drink, then hand them a half of a lemon. Of course, they know that to drink straight lemon juice would be very sour or bitter. Tell them how this lemon they're holding is like our troubles or trials. Trying to drink straight lemon juice is like trying to handle our troubles or trials on our own.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 10:13 that our temptations or trials (symbolized by our lemon) are something that is common to people. All of us have troubles we encounter, but how should we handle our troubles?
(Have children squeeze their lemons as hard as they can over a large pitcher of water. You might allow them to lick their lemons after squeezing them.)
Just as we let the juice pour out of this lemon, we need to take our trial, or the thing that is bugging us, and pour it out to God. In Psalm 142:2, David pours out his trouble to God. (Briefly explain how he was running from Saul for his life, or read the story from a child-friendly Bible.) We pour out our troubles by going to God in prayer.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" 1 Corinthians 10:13.
"I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him my trouble" Psalm 142:2.
(Now, add a cup of sugar to the lemon water and stir to make lemonade. You might allow the children to take turns stirring the lemonade.)
The sugar represents how God adds His grace to our troubles when we are his children and we go to him in prayer. He may not take away our lemon, but He gives us the grace to deal with our problems so we can make it through life. Just as it says in I Corinthians 10:13, He will make a way that we are able to bear our trial.
(Allow children to drink some lemonade at this point.)
Share an experience in your life that you took to God in prayer and were able to overcome because of His grace. Here is an experience that I shared: When my dad passed away, it was a very difficult time for me, and I needed help to pour this out before the Lord. I didn't feel like I could face going to the funeral, but after people in my church prayed with me, I knew I would be okay. I had to continue to pray on my own too. God showed me that even though my dad was gone, I could still remember all the good times we had, and this was one of the things that helped me to overcome the grief I felt.
What do you have in your life that is like a lemon to you? Have you poured it out to God? If you really feel overwhelmed by it, it's okay to ask Christian friends to help you pray about it too. Give God your lemons, and watch His grace turn it into lemonade!
My trouble was like a lemon
A bitter, fearful thing I could not bear
So with weeping and great lamentation
I poured it out to God in prayer.
Then I saw, as if in a vision
A gigantic sugar bowl,
And some sugar spilled out and began to mix
With the many tears of my soul.
After much thought, I finally realized
The tears I cried over my "lemon"
Made me sad, distraught and afraid,
But God took and stirred in
His oh, so sweet grace
And gave me back lemonade!
Copyright 2005 Carol Lynn Connell
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