Take Up Your Cross

05-15-2022Weekly Reflection©LPi

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Many folks really work very hard to circumvent difficult situations. We prefer the easier way around something, rather than risk inconvenience, hurt or prolonged suffering. It’s no wonder euthanasia is rapidly becoming acceptable around the world. Through purely human eyes, there is no issue bypassing the inevitable, taking control and bringing things more swiftly to a place of peace. If this is the way God sees things, then why does Jesus make such a big deal helping us understand the experience of suffering and embrace it? God’s wisdom clearly takes us in another direction.

Imagine if we were able to eradicate ALL hardship and suffering. Where would we be? As we look at our own journeys, many of our solid more growth producing life lessons have been born of suffering, disappointment, inconvenience, darkness, and despair. There is something sacred about all of these experiences as God uses them to create something new. Envisioning a life without hardship and suffering brings us to a vision where everything is flat-lined and dull. As much as hardship and suffering are difficult crosses to bear, not taking them up runs the risk of us becoming shallow, empty, and lifeless. Helen Keller remarks that, “a happy life consists not in the absence but in the mastery of hardships.” What an incredibly wise insight! Many really successful people and saints were brought to their station in life because they suffered. Suffering teaches us about what’s important and propels us to search the depths of our souls for resources and strength we never would have known before.

This is especially true when we love as Jesus asks us to love. Love, perhaps above any other experience, can cause us great hardship, pain, and suffering especially when it’s authentic and unconditional. While it can thrust us into an incredible experience of God and life on one hand, it can bruise and wound us deeply on the other. Mastering the art of love is the secret to living life well, walking in the presence of God and investing in the joy of the Gospel. Love and suffering walk hand in hand. Compromising one will compromise the other. Maybe that’s why Jesus spent so much time convincing us to accept both.