John 18:11 “… Am I not going to drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Here is Jesus; standing in the garden facing off with one of his disciples and a troop of soldiers. “Are you Jesus?” At the answer “I AM…” they all find themselves stumbling backwards. Still they are going to take him. This is what they came for. But this was also what He came for. The zealot grabs a sword. Not here! Not now! Not on his watch! He’ll fight for Him. He’ll fight for the promise. Jesus stops him. It is not the time for fighting. The cup is to His lips and it is time to drink.
As I watched this scene play out I was again struck by Jesus’ confidence in His calling. His time on earth was so slight. How little teaching he actually did. How few places He actually traveled. His words fill mere pages. There was so much Jesus could have done but He only did what the Father had sent Him to do. He knew His purpose and when the time came He had peace.
And so I pray- Father, what is the work you’ve created me to do?
I know sometimes that answer doesn’t always come at our bidding. And since we cannot fabricate God’s call on our lives we just wait patiently. He will send His word in season. For now we remain faithful in the little things. We stay engaged as mothers, fathers and spouses. We look to serve those around us and honor our leaders. These are things that God places a high value on. Above all we draw near to God then when the calling comes we will find ourselves ready.
I was also struck by Christ’s simple submission to the Father’s will. I go kicking and screaming when He tells me to talk to my neighbor. After all I’ve got laundry to do! In contrast Jesus walks silently into the hands of those who are going to beat and mock Him. Those who should have been worshiping Him! He didn’t argue, even when the Father’s perfect will included pain.
And so I pray- Father help me not begrudge the cup you’ve given me.
I know some of you are drinking a much more bitter cup than I am right now. You have children with cancer. You are battling chronic pain or living in an abusive marriage. I do not pretend to grasp what you are enduring and I pray for you even now. For others of you life just feels hard and you feel unseen. When we pray and God does not see fit to deliver us from our circumstances we are left with this: to drink from the cup He’s given us. Even if it means pain.
And just when one sentence from the master’s mouth takes me farther than I want to go, I catch the secret that stayed Christ in the midst of it all. That one word in all those words… Father.
Too, often when we talk about Christian suffering we intrinsically distance ourselves from God. He becomes far off and aloof. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Even in this moment He called God father. He knew this wasn’t a casual deliberation from the God-in-the-sky. No, Jesus trusted that His wise and loving Father would only permit what was absolutely necessary to accomplish His perfect work in the earth.
And so I pray- Father let me be convinced our your goodness and love for me in all things.
If your cup tastes bitter, take heart. Your Father loves you and is with you in this pain. He cares for you dearly and Christ, having suffered too, is now in the throne room, as your advocate, interceding for you in this moment. He is intimately acquainted with the pain you are feeling and the faith it takes to stand firm in this trial. He knows exactly how hard it is and exactly how foreboding and endless the cloud line appears.
His sweet Holy Spirit will encourage, comfort and sustain you in this. You do not have to be strong enough. Fall on your knees and let Him carry you. And your pain is not for want. It has purpose. Your pain has purpose! God will not leave you in this place. Through understanding or change He will deliver you from the hold of this struggle. So be of great courage and do not lose heart. Your Father is good and, in time, He will make all things new.