“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
Listen, weary pilgrim, you can’t choose your cross to bear. Even our Savior prayed for the cup of God’s wrath to pass from him, yet there was no other way. Our cross is our cross. We cannot choose our suffering. How often do we scroll social media and wish away our cross? How often do we long for some semblance of “normal?” How often do we pray for the thorn to be removed only to be reminded that his grace is sufficient? The call of Jesus is clear- pick up your cross and follow him. Comparing your suffering with the suffering (or, ostensibly, the lack of suffering) of others is both fruitless and frustrating. Your cross is your cross. Their cross is their cross.
But let me encourage you. Yes, his grace is sufficient for every ounce of suffering you endure. I don’t say that glibly or dismissively. Like you, Paul bore a cross- one which he begged God to remove. Though God never removed the burden, he supplied so much grace that Paul exclaimed, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses…” (1 Cor 12:9). By grace, Paul was able to see the power of God demonstrated in and despite his suffering. Grace becomes “amazing” when it becomes more valued than our healing or restoration. As you take up your cross this week, know that the Spirit of God Omnipotent is upholding you, walking with you, sustaining you, and enabling you to obey his command to follow King Jesus. It is through your suffering that the power of Christ is being made known. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses (Physical ailments), insults (relational difficulties), hardships (daily struggles), persecutions (martyrdom), and calamities (life-changing events). For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (1 Cor 12:10). If you cannot say this with Paul, then the depths of God’s grace is a treasure yet to be discovered. The grace that regenerates is the grace that sustains. The grace that brings dry bones to life is the grace that puts breath in our lungs.
Not only is his grace sufficient, but his wisdom and providence is perfect. Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the Earth. His cross was a predestined reality. Just as surely as God knew what he was doing when he grew the tree to make the cross, so too he has a plan and purpose in your suffering. We may ask, “Why?” We may ask, “Why me?” But God’s wisdom is perfect. His decrees will stand. You will be conformed to the image of Christ and he will be glorified. We may wish for another cross, but this one was chosen for you. Pick it up. Follow Jesus. He knows what he’s doing.
Be encouraged this week. Your suffering and your trials and your heartaches and your tears and your agonies and your inner turmoil and your stress and your burdens and your shortcomings… none of it can compare to the glory that is to come. Yes, the cross will lead you to Calvary. But Calvary will lead you to glory.