The Bitter Cup

When we are tempted to think that life is not fair, we may do well to consider “the most tragically unjust moment in the history of this world” when the Savior Jesus Christ was crucified.[1]

President Jeffrey R. Holland explained this about the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane: “He felt every pain, heartache, and grief, and He endured all the anguish and suffering experienced by you, me, and every soul who has ever lived or will ever live.”[2]

He suffered. He arose triumphantly from the tomb. It is for that reason, the “sting of death is swallowed up in Christ” (Mosiah 16:8). It is for that reason we should “be of good cheer; [He has] overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

When we are tempted to give in and give up, we ought to look to the greatest Exemplar of our faith; the One who “drunk out of that bitter cup” so we wouldn’t have to partake of all of it (3 Nephi 11:11). We only sip of the bitterness in this life because He drank the rest of the cup for us. Indeed, “He suffered … in all things” (3 Nephi 11:11). 

The late Neal A. Maxwell taught, 

“As we confront our own lesser trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we ‘might not … shrink’—meaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus.”[3]

May we not only partake of the bitter cup without becoming bitter, as Elder Maxwell opined, but may we experience hardships without becoming hard and heartbreaks without becoming broken.[4] Because of Jesus Christ, we can be “delivered out of [our] trials, and [our] troubles, and [our] affliction, and… be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 38:5). We can become softened instead of hardened because of our afflictions (Alma 62:41). We can become as the Savior. We can become the works of the work of God.[5]

[1] Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Savior of all, a Gospel for all,” Liahona, March 2024, 6.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Neal A. Maxwell, “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Oct. 1997.

[4] Lau, E. (2021). A look back at Desmond Tutu’s greatest quotes, from kindness to forgiveness.

[5] David A. Bednar, “‘Consider the Wonderous Works of God (Job 37:14)’” BYU Speeches, Jan. 23, 2024.

Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times,, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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