by Jadell Forman
(This is part of a series posted each Monday at The Neighborhood Café.)
Sometimes when I look into the cup in my hands, as I reflect upon the life I hold, I see sorrow. Sorrow within my own heart and throughout the entire world. It’s too much. If I look too long, it’s overwhelming.
All around my neighborhood and our world I see political corruption, social oppression, environmental destruction working its evil in political captives, impoverished children, and littered streets. In addition to those distant sorrows, people close to me experience sickness, loneliness, hopelessness, anguish.
When Jesus looked into his cup, he saw an overwhelming amount of sorrow, his and ours:
Jesus‘ cup is the cup of sorrow, not just his own sorrow but the sorrow of the whole human race. It is a cup full of physical, mental, and spiritual anguish. It is the cup of starvation, torture, loneliness, rejection, abandonment, and immense anguish (Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen, p. 35).
Often when I’m upset, all I really want is someone to look into my cup with me and say, “Yes, that is upsetting, isn’t it?”
Christians mourn with those who mourn. Jesus mourns with those who mourn. And in the midst of the sorrow, he brings blessing. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. By whom? By Christ, and by Christians who have themselves received Christ’s comfort.
For our sake, Christ held his cup (and our cup) of sorrow, saw the immense anguish, and said a loving yes to God’s call to drink the cup.
Jesus didn’t throw the cup away in despair. No, he kept it in his hands, willing to drink it to the dregs. This was not a show of willpower, staunch determination, or great heroism. This was a deep yes to Abba, the lover of his wounded heart (p. 37).
Christians know that no amount of our willpower, determination, or heroism will eliminate the cup of sorrow. We won’t eliminate sorrow when we can get the right people into government office, the latest education model into our schools, and a better flowchart into our businesses. Governments, education, and organization are tools God gave us to solve some, even many, of our world’s problems but never empty the cup of sorrow.
No. Christians share in Christ’s suffering, including sorrow. Even so, sharing that cup with him and with other Christians is also, oddly, the cup of joy.
Next Monday: Holding the Cup, Part 3: The Cup of Joy