“Take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus commanded
This one statement is enough to tell all of his followers that the path of Christ is not going to be one of ease and pleasure.
However, there are times in a believer’s walk that the cross she or he is asked to bear may feel soul crushing. The light may appear to be devoured by the ever-present darkness desiring to destroy you. I have been treading upon a war-torn path most of my life with destructive battles being fought at every turn.
The groove my cross has gouged into my path has become cavernous. Yet, the deeper it digs into the earth of my soul the greater multitude of footprints abound near to my own.
Tis such a battle I have been engaged in of late and the enemy is fierce, for he tries to steal my health, my mobility, my faith, my hope, my humanity but he is failing on all the important fronts. He can have this broken shell if that is what provides him false hope, for his end is near.
If your cross is feeling a bit too wearisome and you feel an overwhelming urge to lay it down, know you are not alone. I have contemplated such an action many a time over my lifetime. Christ never expected us to carry our burdens alone even when humans fail us. Perhaps, especially when humans fail us we learn how steadfast his devotion and love for us really is.
‘Taking up your cross’, is not a euphemism; therefore, do not deceive yourself into thinking the Christian life has no earthly cost. There is no Christian “lifestyle”; rather, it is a life commitment and the difference becomes glaringly clear when any degree of hardship enters into a person’s life.
Anyone can be faithful, devout, and committed when the weather is fair. It is easy to obey and love God, the Father, when your mind is telling you that you don’t need him because you have everything under control. Control is a grand illusion that can be destroyed very easily.
Hollow faith becomes transparent when hardship arises and the “believer” flees from God because he or she believes the lies of the great deceiver. Satan has all the time in the world and beyond to think of ways to destroy you and he has had plenty of practice so he is good as this trade. Hence, if your faith is weak or just a thin façade you have used to fool yourself and all those you love then you are easy pickings for a prime predator of souls.
A warrior in the faith is a sought-after prey for the king of demons, for a warrior does not fall easily. Satan is relentless and vicious because if he can take a warrior down then many will fall with him or her. I am blessed to know many warriors and I can attest that Satan’s attacks have been cruel and ceaseless. Yet, I can also proclaim that these courageous men and women have been steadfast and perseverant allowing a multitude to find the love and forgiveness of our Savior through their suffering. Your suffering will never be wasted if you allow God to use it. I have seen both the good and the bad results of how people handled their suffering. Pain is involved for both those who curse and blame God and for those who ask God to use their suffering to bring others to forgiveness.
The “blamers” bring about bitterness and anger that act as a poison to themselves and to all around them. Relationships are destroyed, marriages end, families become broken and Satan is exceedingly happy.
The “faithful” trust and obey God’s word bringing about fruit they may never see. However, if they handle suffering in a positive way it too effects all around them in a positive manner whether or not the observer is saved or not.
This doesn’t mean that the suffering Christian is jumping for joy and singing loud praise songs while in the midst of painful turmoil like some half-crazed martyr. Sometimes it is evidenced by patient who doesn’t swear at and degrade his or her caretakers because he or she is suffering. sometimes it is as simple as their prayers being overheard by unbeliever or a struggling Christian as they lay terrible suffering in a hospital bed. The ways God uses our suffering are far more than we can even conceive.
One of my most cherished pieces of scripture is, “Jesus Wept”. He knows our pain, he feels our pain and he cradles us in his loving embrace to steady our sobs of agony. There is no problem or pain that Christ cannot handle.
There is suffering so great that he must carry us for a time upon our paths, for the wound is nearly mortal. And in those times, we often wish it were a mortal wound, he understands. He will never leave you even if all you can bear is for him to be near… waiting for you to call upon him. He will wait. He will wait because you are his beloved.
I am a warrior. I do not stay this in boast, for there are more times than not that I begged for God to take this burden from me. Alas, he has not so I pray; instead, for unbounded strength. Strength, perseverance and wisdom are the weapons with which he equips me. Using the scripture written upon my heart to fight the king of all lies when he attacks, which has been often of late creates a never ending need to continue to write the scriptures upon my heart and mind through ardent study. The Father has generously gifted me with a multitude of faithful family and friends who surround me when Satan’s attacks are most vicious. They are my earthly backup aided by the army angels of God.
The Cross is heavy. The Cross has always been heavy so do not be surprised when troubles and sorrows visit your door. Instead, gird yourself with scripture and knowledge of what you believe and not only what you are told to believe. Is your faith fair-weather only or can it withstand the hurricanes of life? Make no mistake, Satan plays dirty and he will use anything to steal you from the Father…anything. He has no rules and there is no line he will not cross to destroy you…so you better start working on that faith.