“What will you have to drink?”
That is a question we hear often whether at a restaurant, at dinner at home or with a hospitable friend.
But I have never heard God ask that question.
No, when He sets a cup before me, He expects me to drink. It may be that He pours a cup of wonderful circumstances, memorable moments or sunny days. But sometimes it is a cup of loss, a cup of sickness or a cup of disappointment. No matter what I may see when I peer over the rim, that cup with my name on it is mean to be drained, whether with a heart swelled with joy unspeakable or through tears unstoppable.
“But wait,” some will say. “The bible says, ‘…We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose’” (Romans 8:28).
Their usual argument then runs this way…
“If God takes one thing from you that He has better things in store. Lose a job? He surely has a much better job, with better pay and nicer working conditions. End a relationship? God has a kinder, more loving and better-looking person waiting in the wings. Get sick? God is going to heal you of your physical illness and use your healing to reach others for Him.”
But that is not promised.
What is promised is that all things work together for good. God does not say that all things are good. He says they work together for good, and the good promised is the ultimate good: “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).
Every cup set before us is designed and destined to make us more like Christ. No matter how bitter or how joyous, how painful or how comforting, every sip is intended to draw us closer to Him and create His likeness in us.
What if I don’t want to drink that cup that He gives?
I am in good company.
Jesus Himself, agonizing over His impending death for sin, prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). He begged that if there is was any other way to accomplish the plan that it be done. But there was no other way. He drank that cup of wrath on our behalf. That is the only cup that His children will never drink.
But all the others are on the table.
We don’t drink because we like the taste; we drink because we love Him.
You don’t choose your cup set before you. God does.
You choose if you will willingly drink so that it you will know Him better and become like Him.
I turn up a cup and drink in a financial blessing, an answered prayer or an amazing time of worship and understand more deeply how He is the Provider, the Sustainer and the Lord of all.
But I may drink a cup of loss, of sickness or pain and find out through those bitter sips as well that He is still the Provider, the Sustainer and the Lord of all.
Our cups may not look the same. Some are full of blessing, others brim with pain, some are a bittersweet mix and others are like honey through and through, but each one has the same purpose: to make us like Him.
My cup is not your cup.
Your cup is not my cup.
But each one of us must drink in trust and obedience knowing that to refuse is to miss Him.
Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
however dark it be;
lead me by thine own hand,
choose out the path for me.
Take thou my cup, and it
with joy or sorrow fill,
as best to thee may seem;
choose thou my good and ill.
Choose thou for me my friends,
my sickness or my health;
choose thou my cares for me
my poverty or wealth.
Not mine, not mine the choice
in things or great or small;
be thou my Guide, my Strength
my wisdom and my all.
– Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)