For more years than I care to remember (around 25 supplies my ever-helpful brain), I have drunk from the cup of sickness and found it a bitter one to swallow at times, especially as pain and infirmity are increasing.
Harder than the one of sorrow and shame? Maybe not, just different in its unrelenting nature. And human sorrows can be eclipsed by moments of joy and gladness.
Shame often seeks to shroud and cloak me again, but I can shrug it off with greater success than before. I have a mantle of grace over me that is large enough to cover all.
Jesus laid aside His divinity to take on the fullness of humanity in a body just like ours. He felt pain, weakness and fatigue. He thirsted, grew hungry, knew what it was to drink a cup of betrayal, rejection, pain and shame as He hung on the cross.
In the garden of Gethsemane He sought to have this cup pass by Him, aware of all it would cost to become the embodiment of sin for us.
He took the cup. He held it close and willingly drank every last drop. For you and for me. Jesus surrendered self in order to release us all from self-driven living.
I have not held a Communion cup for months. Nor drunk its contents. Nor fellowshipped with head bowed, bread crumbled, chewed and eaten, sharing life, sharing grace, sharing hope.
Being housebound has meant church is everywhere, and nowhere specific.
I fellowship by TV, by the Internet, by having only the companionship of my beloved beside me.
Joining in with TV church and missing being community with my home church.
And I feel I am needing to be reminded of that cup once more. Like one parched dry, I seek to gulp down every drop of Christian teaching I can get my hands on.
Soak in all the friendship and fellowship I crave.
But I need more.
I need the life-blood. I need Christ poured out as drink offering brought to my conscious mind. I need to grasp with hand and heart the sweet communion of saints and all we share as His redeemed.
For Christ gave his life for me. He overcame the darkness so that I don’t have to live swallowed up by it any more. I can embrace a life free from shame. Sickness and pain don’t fit who I am either, but they will only be finally defeated as the kingdom comes in all its fullness when Christ returns.
We live with confusion. With mystery. With unanswered questions.
With hope in the midst of helplessness. With light and grace to steer us through shadowlands.
For now, the cup of sorrow, shame and pain willingly swallowed by my Lord is one I want to recognise, hold to me, lift with others in unity, drink gratefully.
In the sharing of our stories, our sorrows and shame, in the voicing of our weaknesses, our frailty, our woundedness, there is a lifting up, carrying of weight, bearing of loads that lighten with many hands to hold and support.
A body made stronger by each part being grace for the other for those times when a cup feels too heavy to bear.
There is joy in knowing we are not alone; we have help, we share life, we share pain.
“When you dig another out of their troubles, you will find a place to bury your own” ~ Anon
in time to come we will share the joy of all needs met in Christ.
This may have been a particularly trying phase with the M.E and allied chronic sickness that is my lot, the cup I have to endure, swallow down – yet, I would gladly go through it all again if it brings me a deeper heart awareness of my Saviour’s sacrifice.
Our greatest trials have a surprising thread of joy running through them. Our needs drive us to greater dependence on God, and there is fullness of joy to be found in His presence as we rest and become refreshed once more.
I will have better days. I will write more fluently and eloquently. I will think more clearly.
“I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up” ~ Robert Moorehead
I already have the best Companion of all to bring life to my hopes and dreams, endurance and perseverance through aches and pains, sweet communion of friendship beyond measure.
For Jesus drank deep of sorrow, sin and shame so that the cup emptied became a cup of salvation, life eternal and resurrection joy for us all.
We come empty to Him for re-fuelling, dry for refreshing, hungry for the manna that feeds and satisfies, drained and weary for His life-giving energy and grace enabling us to go on for one more day.
So, battle-scarred and oh so weary as I am, I choose to hold my cup, lift it to my lips, breathe deep of His Spirit, imbibe great draughts of grace, and drink…willingly… at least for today.
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars” ~ Anon
What enabled you to endure them?
Please feel free to share in the comments below. I love to read and reply to them.
Linking here with Joan for ‘Sharing His Beauty’
Lovely post Joy. Just a thought but in my Parish home communion is offered to the sick/housebound – Is that something that your own Church could offer you? x Much love Kimmie x
Thank you so much, Kimmie, for your lovely support and encouragement. I really appreciate it! Yes, our church did offer to bring communion to us a few months ago. But our situation was such at the time that we didn't feel ready for a home visit. Sadly, they haven't asked since and we have very little contact with them or from them. The onus is very much on us now to get in touch and suggest it again. So that is something we need to consider. Although, in theory, there is nothing stopping us from celebrating communion on our own at home together. Hmm… food for thought! Xx
Hi Joy,Thanks so much for sharing your heart, your wounds, your struggles… I nodded my head a lot throughout reading your precious heart-felt post. My fellowship is also mainly online to be honest. Something I have had to see in a new light, making the most of the opportunities before me. I often think, what it would be like without the internet.. it's such a gift in so many ways.Yes, sometimes that cup does feel too heavy to bear. Things I am learning to say goodbye to and instead looking to the gifts God has opened before me in challenging circumstances. But am so thankful that we have a Saviour who wants to carry it all, and open our eyes to His grace.Blessings
Anita, I know you can relate strongly to much I have shared here. I also wonder how I would manage now without the internet! Fellowship and friendship there have become an integral part of my life. Used selectively and wisely, it is a gift indeed.It is hard to alter our expectations. Although there are always unanticipated gifts even in adverse and challenging circumstances. One of which is looking to and leaning heavily on our Saviour "who wants to carry it all, and open our eyes to His grace".
Joy, I was incredibly moved by your post. One of the most difficult things to endure in life is physical pain. It is a cup most bitter. And many days, it is near to impossible to pick it up. However, the wounded hands of our Savior give us strength to bear all things – in His power, His mercy, and His love.GOD BLESS!(Visiting from Sharing His Beauty)
Hi Sharon. Thanks very much for stopping by. It's great to meet you! Yes, physical pain can be so persisitent and prolonged. It is a continual reminder of our earthly frame with its attendant weakness and frailty. Though, as you so rightly say, "the wounded hands of our Savior give us strength to bear all things – in His power, His mercy, and His love"; and that makes all the difference in the world. Blessings 🙂 x
Dear JoyI know how hard it is to fight against that enemy called shame, but remember, dearest Joy, that it is a lie. I had to fight this battle as well for a long time and still do from time to time for when you suffer from such a disabling disease like Fm/ME, you are not precisely the sort the world would nominate for accolades! Yes, my friend, I have learned one thing from our Lord Jesus' wrestling in the Garden and that it to always, especially when I am experiencing excruciating pain and exhaustion, is to give my spirit in our Pappa's hands and to ask him to glorify His name. You inspire me so much with your tenacity, dear friend, and I know others who struggle with chronic illnesses, and you are so SPECIAL in your Beloved's eyes.Blessings XXMia
Dear Mia, thank you for your lovely response here. I agree, we are no longer covered in shame when Christ has covered us in His mantle of grace. Anything that says otherwise is, indeed, a lie from the enemy. Surrendering our own cup of sorrow, sickness, shame and pain to our heavenly Father means that it becomes a cup of blessing instead. God uses it all to bring glory to His name.It is you who inspires me, my friend! Your spiritual insight, wisdom and understanding are wonderful, your wriitng is so beautiful and your spirit so sweet and encouraging despite the crushing nature of this illness.If I am tenacious (what a nice way to describe 'stubborn'!) then it's probably because I've had to fight through so much in my life and it's made me determined to believe I will "see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living". Blessings Xx
Wishing with all my heart we could all join you in your home for communion together. Wouldn't that be something?! What an honor you are to Him dear friend!
Dear Joy, what a kind thought! As it is, much as I would love to, I'm afraid I couldn't squeeze many folk into my small home. But I am so thankful that I already commune with you all in the vast spaces of the blogosphere and internet. One day we will 'meet' for real. What a celebration party that will be! Blessings 🙂 x
Dearest Joy,There is joy in knowing we are not alone; we have help, we share life, we share pain."When you dig another out of their troubles, you will find a place to bury your own" ~ AnonThese words describes why I come back to your poems again and again. The knowledge that we are not alone. That people like you are there, openly sharing their pain with the world. It makes my pain easier to bear. I remember when Helen died, that feeling of utter alone ness. And then within hours people arrived at our house, some had lost children too, other came to help, to show that we are not alone in our grief. Her death was hard to swallow, but my faith and compassionate people helped me endure.Your online community will always be there for you. Your poems inspire me and I want to say that you are a gift to this world.Nothing has stopped you yet, and I expect nothing will. At the end of our lives we will arrive in a place free of pain, grief and heartbreak, the ultimate gift. But until then you have 'us'.
Dear Patricia, my heart goes out to you for your loss. To lose your sweet daughter must have been a pain beyond words, one that may subside a little yet break open to leave you feeling raw and wounded all over again as milestones occur to refresh memories. In the sharing of our pain we connect in our humanity and offer one another empathy and suppprt in the process. Each person's circumstances and pain can seem unique to them until they discover how others are walking, and have walked, this path before them. And there is much comfort in the sharing of life and experiences. Your kind words deeply touch and encourage me greatly. If only one person is helped by reading the outpourings of my heart and finds an echo in their own, then I am so thankful. God takes every crumb and breaks it off for as manna for others. Nothing in our lives is wasted. All that we go through shapes and makes us into all He desires us to be.You are right. I am tenacious. I long to break free from all that chains me, and in the process I am determined to become an instrument of change who helps others to live more fully and freely too. And I believe it will begin to happen as I learn how to rise above and fly free of my own limitations and problems.I am so grateful for the support of the on-line community of friends I have and feel really privileged to know – you included, of course! Thank you for being there for me. We travel this road together, in full knowledge that at the end of our lives "we will arrive in a place free of pain, grief and heartbreak". Amen. Xx 🙂
Hi Joy! It is so nice to meet you today! I am so sorry for your restrictive illness, I am sure it does make you feel alienated. Isn't it a wonder that now you can be a part of a larger community of believers on-line? I hope your followers really help you to see how precious you are.I am hoping that you will be able to worship as you would like soon…but in the meantime, I will pray for your inner self to be strong, as St. Paul prays. That God will show you just how special you really are.Blessings to you :)Ceil
Hi Ceil! It's lovely to see you here. Yes, I do feel very grateful for living at such a time as this when one can be housebound yet able to 'meet' and connect with others worldwide on a daily basis. Thank you for your kindness. I also hope I can make it out to church or to have fellowship with others in my home city soon. And I really value your prayers. When our inner self is strong then it enthuses strength and resilience to every part. Meanwhile, I am honoured to be part of a loving and supportive group of friends and followers on-line. Blessings 🙂 x
Thank you for stopping by my blog today, Joy.Our God and Savior is more than enough and so awesome! He will carry our burdens for us, if we just let Him. Praise Him!
My pleasure, Kimberly. It's lovely to see you here too! Yes, "Our God and Saviour is more than enough and so awesome". He carries all our burdens, if we only surrender them to Him. The problem is we often cling too tenaciously to them ourselves and fail to see Him standing ready to bear them for us. Yet when we do, He is faithful to either give us grace and strength to bear up under them or He willingly takes them from us. Blessings 🙂 x
Joy, I am so glad you linked with us at #TellHisStory, and I pray that this can be another place of "church" and fellowship for you. I wish I could knock on your door, and bring the cup to you. We would break bread together. I "liked" your FB page, and look forward to staying in touch through your page, and your posts at #TellHisStory.
Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion. It's a great privilege and honour to link up with you, Jennifer! I'd love to share the cup and break bread with you too. Meanwhile, being a part of your lovely, welcoming on-line community at #TellHisStory is a wonderful thing indeed and I look forward to joining in again soon. Blessings 🙂 x
My sweet Joy, What a beautiful, poetic, heart warming and inspiring post! Thank you for sharing and making me see that my life is never as bad as it seems, and there is nothing we cannot handle with grace when we know that hardships and tribulations, just like waves beautifully sculpt the rocks, will sculpt both our hearts and spirits.Blessings and Light and Love!Katina
Hello, dear friend! So lovely to see you here again, Katina. I have missed you! Oh, I love your insights and totally agree that "there is nothing we cannot handle with grace when we know that hardships and tribulations, just like waves beautifully sculpt the rocks, will sculpt both our hearts and spirits" ~ so beautifully and poetically expressed, thank you. Blessings of Light and Love to you too 🙂 xx