Lent has a breadth of meaning, but today we will focus on waiting for deliverance. Henri Nouwen wrote a great book called Can You Drink the Cup? He refers to one of the four cups, the cup of suffering, and asks if you can drink from it. I know when it is offered to me, I feel like a little child eating peas–the mouth is clamped shut, the head is shaking no, no, and if I should get a mouthful in, it is spit out as soon as you turn away. The cup of suffering is offered to every one of us at some time.
Think about your sufferings . . . struggling children or spouse, financial stress, diagnosis of cancer, loneliness, marriage problems, or just that phone call from a struggling friend. There are so many cups of sufferings. We wait, and we pray and we wait.
Our prayers often don’t seem to be answered, so the waiting goes deeper into the solitude of our heart and there it gets honest. Tough questions are asked, “Lord, are you there? Can you hear me? Do you care?” The waiting gets real as despair tries to come in and steal our hope. Or it can lead to the cry of our heart, as we cling to God. This is the battle ground, the furnace of transformation into holiness. God wants to make us holy. It is in this place that we hear his quiet voice saying:
Can you drink this cup? Jesus did. Remember in the garden when he cried out to me, “Father, take this cup from me.” Do you know why he finally drank it, the quiet voice asks? Because he trusted me.
(Paraphrased Luke 22:42)
What are you holding in your cup of suffering? Take courage, drink from it, and in the dregs, you will find hope and the unfailing love of your Heavenly Father. Someone has said that in lament, God doesn’t come and fix me, but he comes and joins me. In Josh Garrels’ rendition of Farther Along, he gives a sense of that deep waiting of the heart, and the hope that is to come. Enjoy.
Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus who gave us the example of obedience and trust. Give us courage to drink all from the cup of suffering, right to the dregs, for you are there and you are our hope. Amen.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings of eagles;
They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:27 – 31
Contributed by Shirley Ryning