A Cup Given to Me

About a year ago we had our annual Women’s Conference at church and after spending a glorious weekend worshiping and learning and fellowshipping and praying, I really felt like God was encouraging my heart to “settle in.” If you followed my pregnancy updates or latest birth story at all you know that this last year and a half my mysterious health issues have been a challenge. I was about 7 months into them at the time of that conference and to be honest the last thing I wanted to do was “settle in.” I’ll spare you the details of all the symptoms and many doctors appointments and medical tests I’d already had done but in essence I felt like I was trapped in a room with no exit and I was frantically trying to find a way out.

That weekend God convicted me and reminded me that I needed to seek Him more than I sought answers and give more weight to His guidance than guidance from medical providers and be constant in prayer more than constant in researching. It wasn’t that I necessarily needed to stop going to appointments and seeking answers and even researching but it was that those needed to be in their proper place instead of the all consuming focus of my life. I needed to willingly surrender to where God had me in that season and trust that He was enough for me and He was still showing His steadfast love to me even in the midst of a trying season.

Fast forward and now here we are a year later. Similar symptoms and still no real answers to this medical mystery. In that time my body has given birth, nursed a babe, gone through plenty more testing and tried more potential solutions. I’ve had months with lots of appointments and months I just had to take a break from them all. I’ve had time I felt functional and had the capacity to do what needed to be done and times where I’ve not been functional enough and lacking in that capacity. Spiritually I’ve had times where I sought God’s face and felt total peace with where He had me and times when I threw an adult temper tantrum begging for relief or answers.  And through it all He’s held me in the palm of His faithful hand. Through His Word and His people and His presence, He has encouraged me and held me up.

Most recently, that encouragement came through the book of John that I’m studying with some other moms of littles. In the midst of cleaning up potty accidents and bouncing babies we dug into the story of Jesus in the garden as He was being arrested by the soldiers in John 18. Jesus had told the disciples many times at this point what was ahead (the cross) and it even says in v4, Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Who is it that you’re seeking? ”  But Peter, being the zealous and maybe impulsive disciple he was, sliced off the ear of one of the guards. Now we know from other gospel accounts that Jesus heals this man’s ear, but Jesus also rebukes Peter in v11. At that, Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me? ”

That last line has been lingering in my mind for some days now. Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?”  The suffering that was ahead of Jesus was more than anything I’ll ever encounter and held magnificently greater purpose than anything in my life ever will. In fact, that suffering that was ahead of Him rescued me from the eternal suffering I deserve. Yet, while the magnitude of His suffering and the deep purpose of it certainly could never compare to the mere physical ailments pestering my body, I’ve been deeply convicted. If the Lord Jesus in all His power and deity and foreknowledge could walk willingly and submissive to the Father determined to drink the cup of suffering before Him, then certainly by His Spirit inside me, I can willingly and submissively reside is a season that I don’t prefer.

One of the other things that occurred to me as we studied this is that we know from the other gospel accounts that just before Judas and the soldiers showed up in the garden, Jesus was praying that God would take away this cup. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”  (Luke 22:42)  Here lies our perfect example in facing anything we wish we weren’t — Christ asking the Father to take the cup in full belief that He is able, yet also simultaneously desiring the Father’s Will above His own.

I don’t know what purpose God is working out right now and why He has allowed me to reside in this season. I can look around at many other “cups” and wonder why God has my sisters and brothers drinking those as well. Ultimately He has the power to remove any cup and I am invited to pray boldly and ask Him to do just that. But the heart posture even in my asking should be “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.” Nothing changes for me in a practical sense. I’m still seeking Him on direction in this journey and still asking for healing or answers or both believing that He’s fully able to do so. What does change is the posture of my heart and the acceptance of His cup when I submissively and willingly say “Am I not to drink the cup the Father has for me? Not my will but Yours be done.”

And even as I do drink a cup I don’t desire, I have so much I can look around and be thankful for (a list that could be a long musing by itself.) But number one at that list is something we see David pray in Psalm 16:5-6: “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.” Regardless of the cup we hold (of which I’m sure mine seems like tea with honey compared to some of yours), we as believers of Jesus Christ also have the Lord as our portion and our cup of blessing. Because of the cup Christ drank, I have a beautiful inheritance in Heaven where there are no cups of suffering to drink and the peace that comes with knowing that truth is unmatched by any earthly relief. 

For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is going to be revealed to us. — Romans 8:18

In the beautiful way that God does, He reaffirmed this in my heart now three weeks later while reading Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elizabeth Elliot (which I 100% recommend). Finishing up the chapter on Acceptance she says “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I'm willing to take it because I trust Him. Because I know that what God wants for me is the very best. I will receive this thing in His name. I need pain sometimes because God has something bigger in mind. It is never for nothing. And so I say Lord, in Jesus' name, by Your grace I accept it.”



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