“Jealousy comes from counting others’ blessings instead of our own.”
To read today’s portion of scripture, you can purchase The One Year Bible (paid link) or find the following in your Bible:
“LORD, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5, 6 NIV).
I believe the NIV is the only translation to express this verse the way it does, saying, “You have assigned me my portion and my cup.” All the others say, in one way or the other, that God Himself is our portion and our cup. I love the second perspective, but for years, I only knew the first, as the NIV was the Bible I read when I was first walking with the Lord. And I don’t think that was a fluke.
Early in our marriage, we went through a number of extremely difficult things: the death of my grandfather, then my mother, and then my grandmother; the blunt verdict of my doctor, who told me, with no buffer or cushion to soften the blow, “You’re infertile.” What followed was a series of adoption attempts, all with plenty of drama. We adopted our son at birth, but then endured 13 failed adoptions (birthmothers all changing their minds at one point or another in the pregnancy) before adopting our daughter through foster care.
I remember the extreme jealousy I felt when I would hear about my friends getting pregnant and then sharing that excitement with their mothers. I would think, Why am I the only one suffering? Why is it so easy for everyone else to get pregnant? Why do all my friends still have their mothers, and their grandparents? My envy and pain turned to bitterness, and I would often spend the good part of a night crying in the living room while Dave and Zac slept, unaware of my grief.
A few weeks after we’d lost yet another adoption — a girl this time, whom we were holding at the hospital when her very young birthparents decided to give her to another couple they liked better — I was reading my Bible when I came upon this passage in Proverbs. And as God had planned it, I was reading my NIV Bible, and so my eyes fell on that particular phrasing: “LORD, You have assigned me my portion and my cup.” And though I’d read those words many times, on this morning, God made me really see them.
I thought about the portion God had given me; the portion that included a great deal of heartache and pain. But in that portion and cup that He measured out specifically for me was a good, kindhearted man who had promised to love me as long as we both had breath, and a sweet little boy who had once told me, “I always wanted a mom just like you.” In that mix were three sisters I loved with all my heart, and friends I couldn’t imagine not knowing, and a wonderful church family. And with the pain had come a deeper intimacy with Jesus, who knew my grief and gave me comfort. The boundary lines He’d put around my life didn’t look like those of my friends, but when I pulled my eyes from their portion and looked at the parameters God had given me, I couldn’t help but see the undeniably pleasant way those lines had fallen. And if His words were true and to be believed — and they were — I had an inheritance coming that would drop me to my knees at the sight of its splendor and abundance.
I do love every implication that comes with, “LORD, You are my portion and my cup,” and that phrase fits very well with my understanding of this verse — for is there anything better than having God Himself as your portion? But I will always be grateful for the way those words fell in that one translation, because written on a scrap of paper and taped above my kitchen sink, they taught me to stop looking at what others had, and be grateful for what God had given me.
LORD, You have assigned me my portion and my cup … and it is good.