Please Don’t Drink the Cup of Bitterness

25 Aug

“They bound the hands of Jesus, in the garden where He prayed

They led Him through the streets in shame

They spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin

They said ‘Crucify Him.  He’s to blame.’

He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set Him free

He could have called ten thousand angels, but He died alone, for you and me.”

(Old hymn, Ten Thousand Angels)

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell, in the latter part of their gospels, about the drink that was offered to Jesus on the cross.  This was not the drink offered to Him right before He died in order to fulfill Scripture; John tells us about that.  This was instead a drink offered at the outset to dull His pain.  It was an anesthetic of that day.

Matthew 27:34, “And they gave Him vinegar to drink mixed with gall:  and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.”

I have heard teaching on several occasions about this drink.  James M. Freeman in his “The New Manners and Customs of the Bible” tells that it was a bitter drink, vinegar rendered acidic mixed with gall or myrrh, containing wormword or absinthe.  So it was a bitter taste that would dull Christ’s pain.  He refused it.

I have heard parallels drawn to us, when given a chance to partake of bitterness in order to dull our own hurt and pain.

We are often tempted to do that.  I have seen leaders in the church as well as faithful church members who get hurt once or twice in the course of several years in their local church and start giving way to bitterness and outright jadedness about their fellow believers.

That is the easiest way to do business, the default setting of our hearts, in a manner of speaking.  Most of us start our adulthood with our hearts open to those around us, leading with our hearts, so to speak, in any leadership roles we have in the church.

But many of us turn into a different person after the first or second time we get hurt.  We narrow our circle way down to the people we are pretty sure won’t hurt us like those others and we only have real, whole relationships with those people.

The loss we go through by doing this is very real.  In closing our hearts, we do anesthetize ourselves from pain.  But we shut out some of the very people God has divinely put into our lives to help us grow.

Some people, indeed, will cause us to grow through the process in which we learn how to be constructive back to them while they are being destructive.  That is not to say we don’t protect ourselves and our families from their destructive behavior, but just to say that we remain in real relationships with them while we do.

Others will themselves grow and be good wholesome friends for us once they have gained some maturity in their own faith.

Meanwhile, if we can remain in real relationships with the people within our local body of believers, we speak with our actions of the reality of Christ, who came to bring us all to wholeness and who said our unity as a church shows others that He is real.

Another negative part of anesthetizing ourselves against pain is that our pain and our joy tend to exist in direct proportion to each other.  I am not talking about a manic depressive state here of wild roller coaster swings in mood, but most of us find our mountains are just about as high as our valleys are deep.  Anesthetizing ourselves evens out our landscape, surely, but it does so at great cost.

Can we trust God to be the holder of our emotions, even of our pain?  If it feels like someone is a hurricane of destruction in our lives, can we trust Him to be the hurricane bands that hold us together in any gale?

I believe we can because the Bible tells us of the great victory we have in Him in every circumstance.  I also believe we can because I have seen this work in my own life.  I too have a 100mph hurricane of a person in my life who has pretty much shredded me emotionally on many occasions.  I have learned that, because I want to be in relationship with her, that kind of thing will happen.  But, God, my precious, wonderful God, has also taught me how to reinforce my emotions against 110mph winds, so that I can now accept the love this person has to offer, however different it might be from my ideal of how I would wish to be loved.  I can accept the parts of that 100mph wind that can allow us to remain in relationship, while letting God deflect the destructive parts away from me.  He does that, you know.

I can say, from His Word and from personal experience, it is better to learn to refuse the anesthetizing drink of bitterness.  It is better to take life straight up, the way God sends it.  He can reinforce the most sagging of emotions.  And we will rejoice, glorifying Him within His Body that way.


2 Responses to “Please Don’t Drink the Cup of Bitterness”

  1. Gene August 25, 2012 at 7:27 AM #

    Honest question for meditation here…… You’ve obviously had some “hurts” in your world (as most of do). While, much of your comments have real depth for contemplation….does the continued blogging of reactions to hurt, continue the process of giving too much thought to those people, circumstances, and events that led to experience to which you react?

    • singingsoprano August 25, 2012 at 7:46 AM #

      I think I know what you are getting at. It is almost as though writing too often about hurts within the Body of Christ and the way Christ can heal them might come across as “the lady doth protest too much” and seem like an indication of vast unforgiven and/or unresolved situations within the Body involving me personally.

      Knowing my personality as I do (and as I think you have begun to do), if I were going through a huge at-present-unresolved issue, I would not speak of it until I had some sort of clarity and closure in it. In fact, when such things have happened, I could not even speak of them with my husband until I saw some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Just the way I am made.

      But once I am through, I want to shout it from the rooftops. And there is no expiration date on that rejoicing. God has forgiven my sin and healed my hurts every time I have needed Him to move in and walk me through a troubling situation.

      Because of that, I get really eager to glorify Him and to let others know He can handle anything in our lives.

      Since I see Christians at odds with each other everywhere I turn, I tend to take situations apart to see where I can apply God’s Word to help others grow, too.

      The Savior has done great things in my life and will continue His marvelous work as long as I am on this planet. And I just want to brag on Him to others!!!

      We truly can cast all our care upon Him!!!

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