You know the common expression, “the hand that was dealt”? This is a similar concept, but more specific to our relationship with God and what He gifts to us. I apologize if you were hoping this was about coffee, because sadly (or very happily if you detest coffee as I do) this is not about coffee.
I find it interesting that I’m writing this today, on a good day, because the subject matter could be described as gloomy or discouraging and I am anything but those things today. Like I said, it’s a good day. 🙂 Recently, I’ve been going through my own version of a storm or just having a difficult time with some circumstances around me. It’s one of those situations that is definitely out of my control. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m writing this now, more toward the end of this flare up, and I believe I’ve found a place of peace and acceptance with it … although, that doesn’t necessarily mean I like it. But that’s the whole point of this subject matter. If I haven’t lost you already with my meanderings, I’ll get to a point now.
If you’re anything like me, maybe you find yourself pressing into God more than usual when these storms or circumstances arise. So that’s been the case, especially this past week or so. I was reading my Bible one morning and then BOOM, out of nowhere, God opened this verse to me in a different light than I’ve seen it before: Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Allow me to offer a little bit of background info or context which most are already familiar with, but I want to be thorough.
Jesus knew he would be crucified soon. He had already prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for God to please let “this cup” pass from Him. In other words, if there was any other way to save mankind, Jesus was asking God to go that route instead, but in His perfect obedience, Jesus wanted God’s will to be done above what Jesus wanted for Himself. See Matthew 26:36-46. So here we are when the officials and soldiers came to arrest Jesus and Peter isn’t having it. He draws his sword and cuts off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants which warrants the response from Jesus, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Now that we’re all caught up, let me explain how this applied to me in the moment, in the midst of my own personal pain and agony. In that “aha” moment, I realized I needed to not be angry or bitter toward or about my circumstances. I needed to “put my sword away” and release any resentments I may have had regarding my situation. That was only the first part, which would seem like common sense since we’re called to walk in forgiveness and always have a pure heart. News flash, I’m still a work in progress so sometimes resentments and impurities slip into my heart, but I do try to eliminate these sins as soon as the Lord reveals them to me.
The second part of what Jesus said is what hit me like a ton of bricks. “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” People who know me know I love a good, thick milkshake or a nice, cold Dr. Pepper. Well let me tell ya – Jesus did not give me a delicious milkshake or a refreshing Dr. Pepper in my cup! How rude, right? What’s in my cup during this season is some kind of wheat grass, whey, kale, mixture of complete disgust and nastiness. That’s what Jesus put in my cup. Blech! I can almost imagine His mixture of emotions in giving me this cup, like any good parent who wants their children to eat healthy; you feel good for doing the right thing, yet you hate to see your child unhappy, and then you think “but they’ll be so much better off with the nutrients”, “why do they have to complain so much, it’s like 2 minutes of grossness?!”, etc.
My belief is that God allows these uncomfortable situations in order that we grow up into healthy examples of His unconditional love, acceptance, grace, and mercy. These are concepts I know best by experiencing them. Experience is a form of action. Of course, I prefer to be on the receiving end, but we’re called to give these godly qualities to those around us. That’s no fun when the last emotion that bubbles up is kindness when you’re drowning in pain. My point is that I began to see my storm, my circumstances, as the cup my Father has given me. It is a GIFT. He’s not trying to make me hurt and doesn’t want me to suffer, but He does want me to grow and mature and be an example in the earth today. He wants me to just drink the stinkin wheat grass, whey, kale mess! If He didn’t allow Jesus to throw the cup to the side and drink what He wanted, then I’m not off the hook either. The bottom line is that it has absolutely nothing to do with what I want and everything to do with what God wants. This is the gift He’s giving to me, so I’m going to darn well be grateful.
I’m just gonna throw some supporting Scriptures and favorite quotes at you:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:17-18 . . . hint hint, we share in His sufferings so He can accomplish something in us.
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25
“God allows in His wisdom what He could prevent in His power.” – ‘Uncle Arthur’ Burt
“Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay. Love isn’t love til you give it away.” – I have no idea. It’s on a plaque that’s been in my mom’s house my whole life.
“Not my will, but Thine be done.” Matthew 26:39
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my
alcoholism CUP, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes. – page 417, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” – from the Serenity Prayer
“We can trust God’s heart when we don’t understand His ways.” – I say it all the time but don’t know where I heard it first.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11
And we know that in ALL THINGS (including my cup) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I could go on and on with these as I LOVE quotes and there are so many Scriptures to support this train of thought, but I digress. My husband brought up an interesting point when I was talking to him about this tiny nugget of revelation. He noted how we either deprive ourselves or others of the necessary process we need to go through in order to learn and grow by trying to rescue them or take the cup away that God has given. Peter was trying to rescue Jesus from that cup. I’m so incredibly grateful and indebted that Jesus accepted the cup that was given to Him. I’m learning to accept my cup with more grace and determination as He did. I just cannot express enough how comforted I am in this process to know God is giving me something that is ultimately for His glory!!
Side note: Can’t say I’d complain if God sent a milkshake right about now. 🙂