IF THIS CUP CAN PASS
The most moving prayer in the Bible, in my opinion, is this one, spoken by Jesus on the night He was betrayed:
Luke 22:41-42 [NIV] He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
We know that God, our loving Father, did not remove that cup and allowed His only begotten Son to suffer and die. Instead, the Father looked on as He was beaten and mocked, crucified and ridiculed, gasped for breath and forgave His persecutors.
God said, “No,” to our Messiah so that He could fulfill the role for which He was born into human form. We understand why the Father said, “No” in this situation.
However, I wonder what it was like for God, as the Father, to witness the consequences of going through with the plan as it had been ironed out at the foundation of the world – to say the inevitable and unavoidable “no” at that time – in the face of His only begotten Son sweating “like great drops of blood.” I don’t imagine Him regretting His decision at all, but I do wonder what it was like for Him.
I wonder what it was like for the angels in heaven. Jesus said He could have called down ten thousand angels. Did they have their swords in hand, ready to bolt to earth? Were they thinking, “Forget mankind! They so don’t deserve the Messiah!”
We know a little bit about what it was like for the disciples = terrifying! They slept through the opportunity to join our Savior in His prayer vigil, and when they woke up, they woke up to trouble coming at them with swords and spears. I’m sure there was little time to think – only time to react and most of them reacted by running away as fast as they could.
I have spoken my own, “if you are willing, take this cup from me” prayers in my life, because there have been times in my life when I thought “I just cannot go through this!” Or “please don’t make me do this!” I’ve prayed similar prayers about others as well – asking God to take away their disease, emotional pain or other trial. God said, “No.” People suffered. I had to face making the tough choices I didn’t want to make. I had to live through what seemed unendurable and endure it. I have seen family and friends have to do the same.
How about you?
Make no mistake, God answers prayer. He says, “Yes.” He says, “Wait.” He says, “No.” In most cases, we will never know in this life why He answered our requests as He did.
And even though none of us can make the case that we do not deserve death and often cannot even make that case that it is unfair to go through whatever trial we are going through, or that we don’t deserve to go through it, I wonder what it is like for God when He says “no” to us.
In the next life, when we stand in the bema and receive the judgment and the reward for our lives, will we then have the opportunity to say “why?” and hear the reasoning? Will God say, “Look here at the patience you built that time I said, ‘wait.’? Will He say, “See the how your faith was strengthened in that trial you thought you couldn’t endure.”? “See the love for Me that you gained, the wisdom that you received, the understanding that was revealed when we walked this trial together.” Or will we even care by the time we get to that point?
This morning the news aggregator site I read included a severe cholera outbreak, a major earthquake, war-induced starvation, more sexual harassment charges and a so-called “white nationalist” rally. Loving Father, if this cup could pass…
Our church announcement bulletin has a half dozen folks still suffering from cancer. Loving Father, if this cup could pass…
A friend is facing surgery. Another is facing a family trial. Another is struggling with addiction. Father, if this cup could pass…
For Christ Jesus, although He asked for removal of the suffering He was about to face, there just was no other way. He was the only One who was the Perfect Lamb of God – the only One who ever could be. God sent Him here in the perfect timing and on the Kingdom schedule. Together, they lived out the plan just as they had designed it together.
For us mere mortals, I believe it is possible in any given circumstance that God might just have multiple options and opportunities to bring us along in the faith. In other words, it wouldn’t necessarily be the only way for us to grow.
Therefore, I don’t plan to stop asking God to pass the cup along if there is any other way whenever I face a tough situation or see others facing one or read of difficulty and disaster in the world. I believe the Father is moved by our suffering and is moved by our sincere petitions for ourselves, our friends, for strangers and for those who would be our foes. I believe that we can change His mind.
Ultimately, praise God, all suffering will pass. This life, the world’s governments and religions and twisted values will pass away and be no more.
Revelation 21:4 [NKJV] And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
This is the hope of all mankind. It is the result of God the Father saying, “No” to His only begotten Son, when our Messiah said, “If this cup can pass.”
In that day, the “cup of suffering” that each and every human being has endured will be removed. Without that “No” from God to Jesus, this world would have no hope. Now we have hope – hope in this life and hope for eternity to come.
I try to keep in mind, when God is clearly saying, “no” to me, that it is precisely that “no” to Jesus that allows me to be here, standing before the throne of God in prayer, communing with Him as with a friend. I am grateful for that “no” that Jesus was willing to endure to save me.
Revelation 22:17 [NKJV] And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
God speed the day when this cup will pass. In the meantime, may the Father answer all your prayers with a “Yes” – unless the best answer is “No” or “Wait.”
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.