Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
Lamentations 3: 24
“The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…the Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.”
II Timothy 4: 17-18
“Paul’s experience was very much what he found in Christ. (Paul and Timothy) had often traveled together. They met at Lystra, and Paul ‘would have him (Timothy) go forth with him’ (Acts 26:3). And so they went from city to city. They two, the young and the aged…Paul had sent a special message to Timothy, so sweet was his company. But father and son are now to part, the sweet converse is over. Timothy is young, and may live long, but no more must Paul. However, happen what may, says Paul, ‘may you have Christ for your companion. Go through the wilderness with Him.’ Paul had found Christ enough, a treasure, a heaven. Paul had ever found sympathy in Him, he never had to complain of Jesus…and ‘O Timothy,’ (Paul wrote) ‘if you find in Jesus what I have found, all will be well. Jesus Christ is the same.’ He has changed me, but He has never changed Himself.”
Andrew A. Bonar
Today’s Study Text:
“Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will but Thine, be done.”
Luke 22: 41
“Lest I Forget” Part 15
“May I Share Thy Cup of Grief”
“Never judge God by suffering, but judge suffering by the Cross.”
What do I think it means to “drink of the cup of grief”?
“Our suffering is not worthy the name of suffering. When I consider my crosses, tribulations, and temptations, I shame myself almost to death; thinking what are they in comparison to the sufferings of my blessed Savior Jesus Christ.”
“Those whom God uses most effectively have been hammered, filed, and tempered in the furnace of trials and heartache.”
“May I Share Thy Cup of Grief”
In past years, after the days when Easter season is celebrated, life seems to get back to the daily grind way too quickly for me. When we study the Biblical record there are so many important details during the week surrounding the cross, especially in the life of Jesus and His followers which we frequently skip right over. This is why I’m glad we are continuing to uncover the beautiful truths found in the last stanza of the hymn, “Lead Me To Calvary.”
This last stanza is written by Jennie E. Hussey as if to be a response from you and me, a personal message to our Father in heaven beginning with the words, “May I be.” This phrase lays out our own desire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus as we walk His path of heartache and pain no matter what He calls us to do and no matter what He calls us to give up.
For just a moment, I want to return to the Garden of Gethsemane where the great struggle between good and evil is portrayed in front of our eyes. Dr. Luke writes about this scene in detail. And he also keeps a record of Jesus’ specific words: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but always Yours be done” (Luke 22: 42, Amplified Bible). I want to share the insights which Matthew Henry lays out in his commentary on this one text in particular: “Jesus prayed that if it was the will of God, this cup of suffering, this bitter cup, might be removed from Him. This was the language of that innocent dread of suffering which being really and truly man, He could not but have in His nature.”
I want to stop a moment to point out that I’ve never met another person who has said to me, “I just love the suffering I’m going through.” Having worked for several years on an oncology unit where many of our patients knew that it was unlikely they would survive their battle with cancer, I came to understand quickly that the “cup of grief” could be a tremendously bitter cup indeed. Whether a person’s cry was for more pain medicine to take away their suffering or as was the case with some patients, they admitted to me that death would be a better option in their eyes than the suffering they and their families had to go through, suffering and pain is not something we seek after. Knowing that the Son of God cried out, “If possible, let this suffering pass” makes it possible for each of us, in those times when sorrow overwhelms us and pain appears to blot out any sense of God’s presence, to find comfort.
However, Matthew Henry doesn’t just leave us with the idea that all Jesus wanted to do was get out of His suffering. As he continues to share, “Jesus, knowing it to be His Father’s will that He should suffer and die, and that, as the matter was now settled, it was necessary for our redemption and salvation, presently withdrew (His) petition, did not insist upon it, but resigned Himself to His heavenly Father’s will: ‘Nevertheless, not My will be done.’ Not the will of My human nature, but the will of God.”
I must admit that the word, “nevertheless” has always intrigued me. So I decided to do some digging. In the Greek the word is “plën,” which means “albeit or rather.” But as I was using my “shovel,” I decided to dig deeper and I found a notation which led me to the word “plëon” from which the word “plën” is taken. Here’s where digging in God’s word always brings tremendous dividends. The word “plëon” means, “more in quantity or quality; to exceed or be much more excellent and much greater.” It took me some thoughtful time to get this idea around my head. But this is what Jesus was telling His Father: “Here’s what I want to do. This is My will, however, Your will is so much better, it is excellent and exceeds My personal wishes that we’re going with Your way, My Father.” Let me add another thought. Whenever you and I face a mountain of suffering, grief and pain, we too may be saying “Please, take this bitter cup away, I can’t stand this.” That’s our human response and rightly so. But I have found that even you and I when we face our own times of trial, can call out to our Father in heaven, “Nevertheless, I want what’s better. I want to do what is more excellent in Your sight, O my God.”
Several years ago a dear friend gave me a beautiful leather-bound book for Christmas. I had read the book before but I must say that this gift of a special edition of author Oswald Chambers classic volume, My Utmost For His Highest is a treasure to me. In his wonderful words, Chambers gets to the heart of the phrase, “not my will but yours be done.”
“My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self that God created me to be through every fire of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself in the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour…If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.”
At first I wondered about “receiving yourself” in the fires of sorrow, in the moment when you’ve drunk the bitter dregs from the cup of pain. Then I thought about that paragon of Biblical suffering – Job. It was in the very midst of calamity, it was at the heart of his sorrow when he received himself for he spoke that even “though (God) slays me, yet will I wait for and trust Him…I have no hope, nevertheless, I will maintain my ways before Him. This will be my salvation.” (Job 13: 15, Amplified Bible).
Today, when so many of my Garden friends face the fires of affliction and are drinking from the cup of suffering, may I encourage you to say to your Father in the words of the Psalmist, “I am poor and sorrowful; let Thy salvation, O God, set me up on high” (Psalm 69: 29).
Ever since I came upon the book, Theology of the Old Testament written by Professor Walter Brueggemann I’ve tried to read through many of his other works. However, being a fan of poetry, it’s his poems and prayers which are my favorites. Today I want to share one of his poems which I read as a “call” for us to not only say the words, “Your will not mine,” but also by our actions, just as Jesus did, say to our Father, “Nevertheless, I want to act more excellent. I want You to know that I have found Your way to be the best in my life.”
Yours, and Not Ours
“You in our past: gracious,
You are a mouthful on the lips of our grandparents.
The hard part is You in our present,
For after the easy violations we readily acknowledge
then come the darker, hidden ones;
aware that appearance does not match reality;
aware that walk is well behind talk;
aware that we are enmeshed in cruelty systems well hidden
and we have no great yearning to be
delivered from them.
Forgive us for the ways in which we are bewitched,
Too settled, at ease in false palaces.
You in our present: gracious,
We in the shadows asking You to do what You have done;
to be whom you have been,
That we may do what we have never dared dream,
be whom we have never imagined..
free, unencumbered, unanxious, joyous, obedient…
Yours, and not ours. AMEN.”
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”
Romans 8: 18
“You, springtime Jesus,
just as I’d settled down for winter,
You broke into my heart
and danced Your love right across it
in a mad excess of giving.
Just as I’d got comfortable
with bare branches and unfeeling,
just as my world was neatly black and white,
there You were,
kicking up flowers
all over the place.
I tried to find a way to tell you
that there were places
where You could or could not dance.
I wanted to guide you on my paths
and have You sign the visitors’ book;
But You laughed right through my words
and sang to me Your melting song,
causing sap to fire the branches.
causing the flames of buds
to flicker into green bonfires,
causing a windquake of blossom,
causing burstings, searings, breakings,
The fullness of life can be frightening
and I’m lacking in courage.
It isn’t easy to live with a heart
that’s wide open to invasion.
Teach me, Jesus, how to move with You,
step for step, in Your love dance.
Touch my fears with Your melting song.
Gift me with Your laughter,
and, in the mystery of your Springtime,
show me the truth of the blossoming Cross.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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