What have you been carrying around lately in your life? A Hebrew metaphor for what we carry is cup, as in “What is in your cup?” The life we’re experiencing is our cup. Isaiah taught Israel that they drank from the cup of desolation having followed evil ways. At a wedding, the couple and family share in the cup of joy. Sometimes I think someone’s switched cups with me when I think, “that can’t be my cup,” meaning I don’t much like or want it.
The cup is the life that we’re living—much of the time the life we have chosen. Sometimes a cup we haven’t asked for is handed to us.
Jesus used the word to ask his disciples, “are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” meaning will you be able to follow me and the way I have taught and to endure whatever comes which would be similar to the sufferings of Jesus.
There is a cup of sorrow and a cup of joy. We would often prefer to skip the cup of sorrow. We often do not like the cup we are given for what’s in it can be bitter as in sour wine. Jesus felt the same way we do on that evening in Gethsemane when he prayed, “Father let this cup pass from me.” Henri Nouwen wrote that Jesus’ prayer helped him work through his resistance to drink from the depths of his spiritual bond with Abba. It wasn’t that Jesus summed up the willpower, found determination or the hero within. “Thy will be done,” came from a deep spiritual communion with Abba from which Jesus was able to say, “yes.” Note that “an angel appeared to give him strength.” (Luke 22:43).
When suffering, often we are only able to see the suffering because it narrows our vision that there is an Abba underlying all and who is the ultimate foundation on which we stand. The grace helps us to go through our cross—our suffering and transcend it. I have heard it said that “the only way out is through.” It is so easy to be tempted by counterfeit ways. Grapes have to be crushed to make wine—the wine that we will become, says Nouwen. There is a lot of sin in the world. To touch the sin with God’s love means that we will sometimes feel its effects.
So suffering and joy are intertwined. This isn’t logical to the human mind but can only be experienced and understood by the spirit whom God carries through the center of it all into another example of the resurrection.
Lift your cup and say yes to the unique life that God gave only to you. You have a part to play in his design. Ask God to help you drink your cup of life to the dregs for in your cup you will also be drinking of his cup.