Carrying Crosses That Change You

“Some things in life cannot be fixed – they can only be carried.” – Megan Devine

“Carry the cross patiently and with perfect submission, and in the end it shall carry you.” – Thomas à Kempis

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Jesus speaking in Matthew 16:24 ESV

Every one of us carries a cross – a burden that seems to crucify a part of our lives, our dreams, and our happiness. 

The most extraordinary and powerful cross ever carried was the one bore along the road to Golgotha. We often forget that the burden was so heavy, so intense; the Son of Man couldn’t carry it alone.  In my heart, I believe it was a form of symbolism to us – showing us that Christ can relate to burdens becoming so overwhelming, they bring us to our knees.

But just like the tremendous purpose behind the cross on Calvary, the crosses we bear have meaning and significance to them.  They change us in beautiful ways we often ignore or discount.

Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble ….” (John 16:33)   Notice how He didn’t use words like “might have” or “could have”.  No, unfortunately He said you WILL have trouble!

I’m positive you’ve heard of the phrase, “We all have our crosses to bear.”  Lately I’ve been thinking hard about my own personal crosses.  Some of my troubles are lighter than others and there are a few so heavy, I wonder how I can possibly keep hauling them around without collapsing.

I’m sure you can relate.  Maybe it’s an addiction that has you in its grip or a relationship where reconciliation seems impossible.  For some, it’s a disease or health concern that’s overwhelming.  For others, it could be the pain of loneliness, constant worries over finances, or lifelong dreams that have recently become unattainable. 

Have you ever sat and contemplated why crosses are necessary?   If God truly loves us, why all the pain and suffering?  What’s the point of it all?

If you’re like me, all the common clichés like, “Suffering tests our faith” or “It’s all a part of life and the evil world we live in”, while they might be true, doesn’t satisfy my curiosity about the role of hardship in our lives.

Here are some things I’ve noticed recently about carrying my own crosses that I’d like to share – hopefully stimulating thought about how you view your own.

Crosses Crucify Pride and Self-Reliance

When I think back on my own experiences, I can see how carrying crosses have broken the back of pride and self-reliance in my life.  When you face something that’s beyond your ability to control, it has a way of shining a bright light on your limited humanity.  Words like pride and self-reliant were phrases used to describe me a few years back, but I’ve carried some crosses that have fortunately killed these personality descriptors.

I see God’s hand in these crosses and their purpose.  The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) and “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife …” (Proverbs 28:25).  God saw this when I was too prideful and arrogant to see it myself.  My attitudes surrounding self-reliance have changed from one of strength in independence to seeing the tremendous value in loving, supporting relationships – needing others and how others need you.

Is the cross of financial ruin erasing pride in your life?  Has the cancer diagnosis opened up your eyes to the beauty of loving, supportive relationships?  Are the personal crosses you carry crushing any pride and self-reliance that are present in your life right now?

Crosses Resurrect Humility and a Need for God’s Presence

When pride gets crucified, humility begins to take root.  When self-reliance has been killed, a vacancy is created for God to exist.  I don’t know about you, but humility is the key to so many wonderful things in life – flourishing relationships, a grateful heart, and most importantly, a teachable mind.  Pride says…”I know it all” – where humility says “How can I learn more about this?”

The Bible says, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

The recent crosses I’ve carried have not only squashed my self-reliant attitude, they’ve created room for God to dwell within me.  I went from thinking about God for an hour every Sunday to seeing Him in all the intimate, tiny details of my life.  When the blinders of self-reliance and independence were removed, I could see a much broader, clearer vision of God and how He was working.

“In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.  The victim commits himself to you.” (Psalm 10: 4 and 14)

Has your rebellious child brought you humbly to the end of yourself?  Has your painful divorce caused you to humbly examine your own behaviors and faults?  Has your loneliness led you to the only One who will never leave you or forsake you?

Crosses Ignite Compassion for Others

As I’ve carried my own crosses, it has made the crosses that others carry more visible to me, and quite frankly, has made my own crosses pale in comparison to those that are carried by others.  When you feel and experience the pain of carrying a burden in your own life, your sensitivity and compassion toward others who are suffering rises.  The weight of my personal crosses has opened up my eyes to the pain others experience and compassionately leads me to do anything I can to lighten their load.

How about you?  Did losing a loved one create a heightened sensitivity to those who are carrying the cross of unexpected death or tragedy?   Has the cross of child abuse caused you to look differently at your own children?  Has carrying the cross of financial ruin changed your view of food pantries and homeless shelters?  How is the current cross you are bearing making you more compassionate?

I don’t know about you, but if carrying my personal crosses leads me from pride to humility, from self-reliance to embracing relationships with God and others, from a self-absorbed mindset to one of compassion and caring, then I think I’ll keep carrying my crosses 🙂

Thank you God for the crosses you’ve placed in my life and for your loving kindness in helping me carry them!

“In this world you will have troubles.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”  (John 16:33)

I pray you look harder at your burdens, the crosses you are personally carrying – seeing God’s loving hands at work in your life – changing you in ways you’ve never imagined!

God bless you my friend!

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