We don’t like pain or suffering! Whenever we encounter any situation, person or thing that causes us to be discomfited, our default reaction is avoidance. When we see that person coming from the north, we change our course to the south. We ignore that phone call as much as possible, sometimes intentionally directing it to voicemail. We avoid going to certain places because, they don’t fit our usual preferred ambience. And yet because we are so quick to pass on that cup, we miss out on opportunities to grow ourselves and experience new places and people, often to our own detriment.
In his letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul clearly spells out that the Christian life is wrought with trials, tests, tribulations and persecution. He told Timothy, “and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12, KJV]. Often when we go through this type of suffering, we equate it to God not being happy with us, or a consequence of us doing something wrong. When it comes to suffering due to your Christian faith or taking a Biblical stance on an issue, it has nothing to do with what you have or have not done. It is a default setting in your Christian walk; the more you stand for the Lord and live a godly life, the more you will be persecuted. Once you are able to embrace this, when seasons and times of difficulty come, you will not be too quick to pass on the cup.
Today, we attribute great revelations in the New Testament portion of the Bible to Apostle Paul but these revelations came at a cost. When the Lord appeared to Ananias to heal Apostle Paul of the blindness He had struck with him with, the Lord also told Ananias, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake” [Acts 9:13, AMPC]. The Lord specially chose Apostle Paul to impact the Gentile world and the Jews for His Glory, but part of that assignment was to also suffer for the name of the Lord. This was the same man who said, “There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting” [Philippians 1:29, MSG]. Even with writing two-thirds of the new testament, planting vibrant churches, raising many leaders and sharing great revelations of the Master, he didn’t consider his present suffering as anything compared to the glory that would be revealed in Him. Rather He said, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” [Philippians 3:8, BRG]. Despite the magnitude of his sufferings [2 Corinthians 11:24-28], he boldly declared that “but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us” [Romans 8:37, TLB]. Apostle Paul did not pass the cup assigned for him but imagine if he had, whether we would know the New Testament today, we do?
The Lord chose Moses to be the savior of the Israelites from the land of Egypt. Despite being an Israelite, Moses had the unique privilege of growing up in the king’s palace and being raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Yet he was discomfited by the sufferings of his people and rather than choosing to pass the cup, he chose to step into the responsibility preordained for him by God. Although he didn’t go about it the right way when he initially did, the Bible says, “It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking forward to the great reward that God would give him. And it was because he trusted God that he left the land of Egypt and wasn’t afraid of the king’s anger. Moses kept right on going; it seemed as though he could see God right there with him” [Hebrews 11:24-27, TLB]. Moses choose to suffer with the oppressed and the downtrodden than to enjoy comfort and riches. That is part of our calling as Christians [read more here]. It cost Moses not only his comfort, but his reputation and status in society, but he esteemed that more highly than passing on the cup. Imagine if Moses chose to stay in the palace, imagine what would have happened…
Finally, God so loved the world that He decided to give Himself as an ultimate sacrifice. The love that God had for each and every person was so profound, he could not watch man perish. When Jesus came, despite the great miracles that he did, the hope he brought and ultimately the great salvation he was to bring, he was rejected by man, accused by man and persecuted by the religious powers that be. The Bible says, “He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own—His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him” [ John 1:11, AMPC]. Remember, these are the SAME people he came to seek and save. These are the same people He came to bring the life and nature of God to, yet they rejected and abused him. So when you find yourself going through similar challenges, “just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds” [Hebrews 12:3, AMPC]. Our Lord Jesus became the ultimate example to us of how to deal with suffering. In Philippians 2:5-8, Apostle Paul says, “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Even when his death seem impending and he desired for the cup to pass from Him, he said “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire” [Matthew 26:39, KJV]. If our Lord and Savior had passed His cup and not gone to the cross to be the sinless, blameless lamb for us, where would we all be today? Imagine what hope we would have today not only for our sins but for the state of the world.
The things you are going through today did not come to destroy you, but all serve together for a greater purpose. Each time you feel like passing the cup, think of our Lord and Master Jesus. Each time that desire comes to let the cup pass from you, think of Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Abraham and all these great cloud of witnesses who endured so that you and I can enjoy that we enjoy today in Christ. Think about them and DO NOT PASS the cup!