Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Friday, April 8, 2011

Week IV - Day 2 - The Cup of Suffering

I couldn't help but smile when I read today's title without inwardly groaning! I know the work will still be challenging, yet I am feeling more assured that I can indeed do this work. I don't know if it was because I spent so much time yesterday working on Holy Week services, but before I read past the title, the chalice immediately came to mind as the cup of suffering.
Can you drink from the
same cup?
Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?" Matthew 20:22 The Message
"Each of our life choices, decisions, and actions involves some consequences. Something will happen because of what we think, say,and do. These consequences may bring gladness, but they may also bring sadness...if we love someone deeply, we must be willing to accept that our heart's investment may cost us loneliness and heartache. We will be challenged to accept that person's weaknesses as well as that person's strengths. We may bear deep sorrow if they die or if they choose to leave us without our consent." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 94)

Joyce continues her thought on choices and suffering by reminding me that every investment has a consequence.  Parents, physicians, some point we have both the joy of the glory and the pain of the sorrow.  Joy, when things go right, when others are happy, when you enjoy success.  Sorrow, when you are lonely, vulnerable, tired within that same relationship.
"...we all have to face the question that Jesus asked his disciples. We ought not to run from the question because it contains within it the seed of spiritual growth." (Ibid)
Not my will, but yours be done.
Yesterday I was reminded over and over the consequences of Jesus' choice as I read about his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Even Jesus found it difficult to drink from the cup of suffering. He begged to have the cup pass by him.  Still, because he had invested time and energy with his spiritual practices of prayer and being in the Word, he found the inner strength to say, "Yes."

Because I am a child of the 70's,  Jesus Christ Superstar captures the agony of the Garden in a way that offers me a tiny taste of Jesus' agony. This video has only the song, Gethsemane. I don't get caught up in the expressions of the artist. Gethsemane - Jesus Christ Superstar

"With each part of our life we can ask ourselves; 'Am I willing to accept the pain that my investment may cost me? Am I ready to be generous with my commitment even if it brings suffering my way? In other words, am I willing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus?'" (Ibid)
Every choice has a consequence.

Breathing in: Strengthen me...
Breathing out:...encourage me.

Lift the cup turned sideways from the table.
Hold it in your hands, still turned on its side.
Thank about your life choices and commitments.
Which ones have brought, or are bringing, pain to you?
As you hold the cup, hold the pain which comes as a consequence of your choices and decisions.
Open your inner being to the Beloved.
Receive the power you need to accept the consequences of your choices.

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. (Mk.8:34)

One of the joys about my life-choice is...
One of the sorrows about my life-choice is...
When I read the scripture verse about taking up my cross, I...

Some are small, while others carry
huge significance.
Life is about making choices...EVERY single day and nearly EVERY minute of every day! I make the choice every morning to get up when the alarm goes off or to hit snooze.  I make the choice to have coffee or tea. I make the choice to sit down and journal before getting dressed or after I exercise. I make the choice to eat a cookie for breakfast or drink a Slim-Fast. I ....

Yes, these seem small, yet even these small choices carry a consequence...and I normally make them mindlessly!  I fear that all to often I make "big choices" just as mindlessly.

Sitting with these questions, so many choices come to mind! I have not appreciated how all of life is made up of choices!  And, what else comes to mind...that many of the big choices that come to mind ALL hold both joy and suffering.  My choice to go to Purdue. My choice to study nursing. My choice to get married. My choice to have children. My choice to work in our agribusiness rather than nursing. My choice to commit various friendships. My choice to go into ministry.  My choice...

The grass is always greener on
the other side of the fence.
Not one of my choices have brought me complete Joy, just as not one has given me only Sorrow/Suffering. With some of my choices, I suffer something nearly every day, and there have been times those times of suffering have seemed to great...times I have wanted to walk away from them!  Times when I think something else would be easier...more fun... I fall victim to that notion of the Grass Being Greener...
Take-Up Your Cross...

When I read the scripture verse about taking up my cross, I... have thought of something BIG...maybe earth shattering, or "I will change the world with this..." I had not thought about it in connection with my ordinary, even my big ordinary, choices.

I slept well last night, not long enough, but well once I finally got to sleep.  The choices from yesterday...and many days before that, are still here this morning.  Yet, I am beginning to see them in a new light and I guess that is what all this journaling, reading, meant to accomplish.

Am I being asked to suffer as Jesus suffered? No.

But, I am being asked to acknowledge that I will have suffering in my life.  Suffering is part of every life.  If I move or if I stay...I will have suffering.  Now, I still have choices to make, and hopefully through all this time spent, I will make those choices with prayer and listening in order to discern.  I pray that I will become more mindful that life is a series of choices....and that each choice carries a consequence....and that within each choice I will have suffering just as I will also have joy.

Life holds struggle, pain, and sorrow.
Jesus, happiness and struggle were constantly woven through your life. Why is it that I want the joy, the glory, the good stuff, but I don't want the sorrow, the pain, the struggle? Strengthen me and guide me when crosses such as anxiety, struggle, heartache, loneliness, sadness, time-crunches, and frustrations pervade my days. Deepen my desire to be your disciple. (Rupp, p 95)

Today, Joyce asks that I will say, "yes" to the consequences of my life-choice and decisions each time I take a drink of any liquid.

Sigh...this is one of those times I would like having Jesus with skin to talk with today.

Prayers for myself and for those walking alongside me during this Lenten journey.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

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