Life has a deep well for us to drink from. We have cups of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hope and despair, health and sickness.
For more years than I care to remember (around 25 supplies my ever-helpful brain), I have drunk from the cup of sickness and found it a bitter one to swallow at times, especially as pain and infirmity are increasing.
Harder than the one of sorrow and shame? Maybe not, just different in its unrelenting nature. And human sorrows can be eclipsed by moments of joy and gladness.
Shame often seeks to shroud and cloak me again, but I can shrug it off with greater success than before. I have a mantle of grace over me that is large enough to cover all.
Jesus laid aside His divinity to take on the fullness of humanity in a body just like ours. He felt pain, weakness and fatigue. He thirsted, grew hungry, knew what it was to drink a cup of betrayal, rejection, pain and shame as He hung on the cross.
In the garden of Gethsemane He sought to have this cup pass by Him, aware of all it would cost to become the embodiment of sin for us.
He took the cup. He held it close and willingly drank every last drop. For you and for me. Jesus surrendered self in order to release us all from self-driven living.
I have not held a Communion cup for months. Nor drunk its contents. Nor fellowshipped with head bowed, bread crumbled, chewed and eaten, sharing life, sharing grace, sharing hope.
Being housebound has meant church is everywhere, and nowhere specific.
I fellowship by TV, by the Internet, by having only the companionship of my beloved beside me.
Joining in with TV church and missing being community with my home church.
And I feel I am needing to be reminded of that cup once more. Like one parched dry, I seek to gulp down every drop of Christian teaching I can get my hands on.
Soak in all the friendship and fellowship I crave.
But I need more.
I need the life-blood. I need Christ poured out as drink offering brought to my conscious mind. I need to grasp with hand and heart the sweet communion of saints and all we share as His redeemed.
For Christ gave his life for me. He overcame the darkness so that I don't have to live swallowed up by it any more. I can embrace a life free from shame. Sickness and pain don't fit who I am either, but they will only be finally defeated as the kingdom comes in all its fullness when Christ returns.
We live with confusion. With mystery. With unanswered questions.
With hope in the midst of helplessness. With light and grace to steer us through shadowlands.
For now, the cup of sorrow, shame and pain willingly swallowed by my Lord is one I want to recognise, hold to me, lift with others in unity, drink gratefully.
In the sharing of our stories, our sorrows and shame, in the voicing of our weaknesses, our frailty, our woundedness, there is a lifting up, carrying of weight, bearing of loads that lighten with many hands to hold and support. A body made stronger by each part being grace for the other for those times when a cup feels too heavy to bear.
There is joy in knowing we are not alone; we have help, we share life, we share pain.
"When you dig another out of their troubles, you will find a place to bury your own" ~ Anon
in time to come we will share the joy of all needs met in Christ.
This may have been a particularly trying phase with the M.E and allied chronic sickness that is my lot, the cup I have to endure, swallow down - yet, I would gladly go through it all again if it brings me a deeper heart awareness of my Saviour's sacrifice.
Our greatest trials have a surprising thread of joy running through them. Our needs drive us to greater dependence on God, and there is fullness of joy to be found in His presence as we rest and become refreshed once more.
I will have better days. I will write more fluently and eloquently. I will think more clearly.
"I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up" ~ Robert Moorehead
I already have the best Companion of all to bring life to my hopes and dreams, endurance and perseverance through aches and pains, sweet communion of friendship beyond measure. For Jesus drank deep of sorrow, sin and shame so that the cup emptied became a cup of salvation, life eternal and resurrection joy for us all.
We come empty to Him for re-fuelling, dry for refreshing, hungry for the manna that feeds and satisfies, drained and weary for His life-giving energy and grace enabling us to go on for one more day.
So, battle-scarred and oh so weary as I am, I choose to hold my cup, lift it to my lips, breathe deep of His Spirit, imbibe great draughts of grace, and drink...willingly... at least for today.
"God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars" ~ Anon
********Have you had circumstances in your life that have been hard to swallow?
What enabled you to endure them?
Please feel free to share in the comments below. I love to read and reply to them.
Linking here with Joan for 'Sharing His Beauty'
and with Jennifer for #TellHisStory
**NOTE** - I am delighted to announce that the winner of a free copy of 'The Wall Around Your Heart' by Mary de Muth is - Anne Peterson. A copy will be on its way to her as soon as possible. Thank you to everyone who took part.