The bitter cup is filled by His hand

21 Jan

Piper quotes Spurgeon:

“It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think I have an affliction which God never sent me; that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him nor sent to me by his arraignment of their weight and quantity.”

That kind of thinking is totally upside-down to what the rest of the world would like to say about God, but it is absolutely essential to the way this man was able to live in a world with real suffering! Piper: “What kept [Spurgeon] going was the absolute confidence that every blackness over his soul was a cloud sent by the living God. ” Does that sound crazy to you?

Charles Spurgeon (C.H. Spurgeon)

Many modern thinkers, frightened at the implications of this kind of God, have attempted to clip the wings of God’s omniscience and sovereignty. For example, recently developed doctrines such as “Open theism” strip God of his complete knowledge of the future. 
What brings you more comfort- a God too weak to be in control of our suffering, too loving to be responsible for suffering of any kind, or a God who orchestrates suffering for our good?

Piper says, “for Spurgeon this view of God was not first argument for debate, it was a means of survival.” Spurgeon knew from experience that at some point, each of us will face suffering. We will only swallow this cup with joy if we know that it is filled by the hand of a loving and sovereign God.

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3 Responses to “The bitter cup is filled by His hand”

  1. Benjamin Finger January 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    I am probrably going to land in hetereodoxy here to be honest. I am shooting from the hip and heart in this reply. Figured I’d reply since none had yet.

    It is weird in the fullest sense of the word to think of pain as something God given. Yet, if we take the truth of Scripture seriously, we see pain as such occuring time and again in either the direct demonstration of Divine wrath or that our Lord provides a response, sometimes delayed, when pain is inflicted by another (.e.g, Hebrews in Egypt). Pain itself is monstreous. Hideous at best to look, normally.

    It is very difficult to see anything that which is of good in it. Much less how can we look at the individual who was abused in ways beyond our imagination both physically and sexually to say this suffering came from God. How can we say to the young man who was recently wed and loses tragically both his wife and new-born in an autocrash that this, this cup of suffering came from God.

    And for many it is difficult to draw close to a God who is sovereign and all-powerful when there is pain in the world. Many for this very reason lose hope, at an emotional level, in the Father. How can He be of mercy and grace when we sense He is the very source of our pain? For many it is to much. They disconnect. For some it hurts to much to draw close in the hurt. They think they are safe by holding on dearly to orthodoxy when they choose to keep God safely tucked away. The pain and hurt keeps coming til all they have is a right belief with eyes that our dry and a heart numbed.

    I don’t know why God doesn’t intervene. I don’t know why He allows the cup of suffering to be tasted in such deep ways by so many individuals, even children and babes. I can not deny this is true. I can not deny that intimately I know deep down God is beyond my understanding of good. But that might be the point. God is beyond my understanding. We do not know what God is up too or what his plans are. We do not what opportunities lay ahead to pour fountains of wonder and that which is good from the streams of pain in our lives. Deep down I have to believe that God has the ability and hopefully the intention to provide opportunities to turn all things to good if we are willing.

    The scars that are upon our backs might simply become crowns upon our heads that we may throw at the feet of Jesus one day.

    What i do know is God is good. I also know that God is here and amongst us. In a world where we only know in part, and see even less; spotting God can be so very hard. Yet He is here. During all points in life, but particularly in the periods of suffering, we need to find ourselves open to others who may or may not be our friend because God may be coming to us through another’s heart. This is especially true when the other individual is a Christian. Jesus who resides in them may have come with our friend or in the stranger to bear and drink from this cup of suffering with us. This is partly why it is so important to accept others, particularly strangers. When we least know it, God may be coming among us. Likewise we share this burden with all those who sufferer. We are called to be the very image of Christ. Christ drank from the cup of suffering so that we may not have to pray the great debt. Like wise as the ones we who have been changed by Christ and now bear his image, we carry the gift if we are willing to lay down our lives and pickup the cup of suffering to drink it with another so that they may not have to bear it alone. It is not good to be alone. That is what pain does. It isolates us and makes us so very alone. It is comforting, to a degree to think, that though God may not wave his hands to make pain disappear that he often comes to us in the form of another to bear the burden of the cup with us. Perhaps more so than arguing the other points, this is what it means above all to preserve the sanctity of life. That is to live life in the good and bad with others.

    I have so much more to say, but this comment is getting to long as it is. Thanks for indulging me as I reflected upon your post. Sorry it was a bit of a rabbit trail, I was shooting from the hip.

    I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from Sarah Cunningham: “Don’t ever deny someone the luxury of being human or broken. That is not a luxury you yourself can not afford to lose.”

    Your brother in Christ,
    Ben

    P.S. Come home safe.

    • Benjamin Finger January 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      Holy typos Ben!

      So yeah to fix some of the typos to make sense:
      * We do not >knowpay< the great debt

  2. brianrecker January 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    thanks for your thoughts ben. That kind of compassion for those in pain is winsome for the gospel message.

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