UV 2894/ 10000 Drinking The Cup of Suffering
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."
- Matthew 20:23
Suffering is endemic in this world due to the phenomenon of sin or rebellion against God’s good order. Once we are redeemed by faith and grace in Christ Jesus, we are also not immune or exempted from suffering. We need to share the baptism or immersion of suffering like Christ. We need to identify ourselves with Christ by sharing in the suffering of Christ. Every believer or follower of Jesus by definition needs to drink from a cup of suffering. Each one ‘s suffering is distinct and different as willed or allowed by the Lord. For some drink the cup lifelong, for some it is a serial of trials , for some it ends after a season. Our response should be to endure it with hope of coming out of it better not bitter even though we may not exactly enjoy it. After the suffering has passed, we can look back and thank the Lord even for the suffering as the psalmist affirmed, “ It is good that I was afflicted that I might learn His holy will.” We should, therefore, not push away with resentment or sadness or self pity when we are offered the cup of suffering to drink from. We should not complain or murmur or doubt the goodness of the Lord. Instead, we should ask the Lord for grace to drink it.
The enemy of our souls brings suffering to destroy us, to rob us of our health, peace and well being. Christ does not willingly want His children to suffer but when He sees it inevitable, He allows it for our greater good, our long term refinement or sanctification. Suffering is allowed by the Lord for a variety of reasons : to test the strength of our faith, to deepen our faith and knowledge of Him,to prune and correct our character, to build patience and endurance in us and to give us opportunities to testify and witness the redeeming glory of God. Suffering is compared to the hardship of training an athlete goes through in order to take his position on the victory stand.
Our suffering for Christ will always have a good ending either in earth or in heaven, here and now or in eternity. It is His sovereign decision or prerogative when and where and how our suffering ends or we are rewarded by the Lord. It is not for us to question His will or to doubt if our suffering was in vain. One thing we can be sure is that when a child of God suffers, He is not alone but Jesus is close and nearest to him, pleading or interceding. He is nearby doing what He is best at - healing, wiping tears, encouraging, comforting by sending the Comforter to us, teaching us the true meaning and significance of His words in the context of suffering. He proves to us that He is not a fair weather friend but one who stays the course with us during our fiercest storms. If the Lord is a Master Weaver, one of the needles and threads and patterns He uses is suffering, the other being well being. Sometimes, suffering and well being co exist, sometimes these alternate, sometimes cut across each other and sometimes run parallel to each other.
Prateep V. Philip