“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, ‘God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.’ The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too.'” ~ Rob Bell
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His followers that whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Jesus is not worthy of Him. In our very cavalier, human nature, we often think, “Why should I take up my cross? Does He know what it entails?”
Does He know?! How narcissistic can we be to say something like that? Yet, in our frail, sinful humanity, we often think that God just can’t understand what we go through in this life. He can’t understand our pains, our hurt, our frustrations. He can’t understand our losses, our grief, and our pain.
Of course He can. He understands it because He went through those very things only intensely more so. Not only did He bear the penalty of all of our sins; but, He bore it in excruciating suffering. There has been many a study done on the torture that Jesus endured in His scourging and walk to Calvary as well as the horrible manner of his crucifixion. Trust me, Jesus understands pain.
Jesus also understands the grace that is available to endure suffering, pain, and death that is so freely given by His Father. God’s grace can help us in all of our sufferings and torments. All we have to do is ask Him for His help.
The problem is that, too often, we decide that we are going to go it alone. We don’t think that we need any help. We don’t want to appear weak. We don’t want to be beholding to anyone. That is the wrong way to approach suffering. We are in need and God is the one who can supply that need.
Taking up our cross can be painful. It can involve suffering. It can be excruciating. However, it can also be joyful and provide an inspiration to others. If they see us suffering patiently and enduring what comes our way, they will want what we have. They will feel the invitation to turn to the Lord in their own trouble and ask for His help.
FAITH ACTION: Be an example of patient endurance to others by shouldering your cross and following the Lord.