The Bitter Cup


One of the biggest mistakes we as committed disciples can make is to try to sweeten the bitter cup God has given a fellow Christian. Our first impulse is to “make it better”. We grieve to see a friend or family member go through a difficult circumstance. We may even take measures to help the person out of that circumstance.

Seldom do we stop to consider that God may be doing a work through that circumstance that is His will for that person. We are quick to credit bad things to Satan’s attack. There are things that are Satan’s doing but we must remember, Satan is as much under God’s power and will as we are.

The Christian that is undergoing a difficult time is often being subjected to the refining fire that is designed to strengthen him spiritually.  When the Christian friend tries to do the “Christian” thing and tries to remove that person from that circumstance he may be thwarting God’s working in his life.

I can look back over my own life and think about the worst things that happened to me and now I can consider many of them to be the best things that ever happened to me. I can see now how those things helped mold me into the person I am today under the Holy Spirit. There were some bad things and I regret some of my actions during those times but, even those were growth periods in my life.

If we could only understand that for those of us who “love God and called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), there really are no bad things. Uncomfortable? yes!, bad? perhaps at the time, but still, under God’s permissive will, they were things that have brought me into a greater understanding of who God is and what He has been trying to do in my life. I can’t say I was always glad for them but I can still say they were good for me.

And, yes, there were those who would have rescued me during those times (if they could), and I appreciated their sentiment and caring. They did help my feelings but I still know that it was not God’s will that I be rescued.

There is still much that God wants to teach us. It is up to us, whether we would be the rescued, or the (would be), rescuer, that we can learn about God’s purpose for those bitter times that seem to overwhelm us.

So, what are we to do when we see a brother suffer?

  1. First, understand that God may be trying to teach him something and we may never know what that may be.
  2. Second, be sympathetic without trying to fix it.
  3. Third, do not try to sweeten the bitter cup. He just may need to endure it.
  4. Fourth, Let him know you care.

These are the things that God will use to make him malleable into the image of Jesus Christ.

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