Jesus said to the crowd: “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”( Luke 21:12-19)
Today’s scripture can indeed seem ominous. The warning that followers of Christ will be persecuted for their belief.
But today’s scripture is also full of promise. A promise of protection by God and a promise of our lives being secured eternally.
I believe that most will see that. I also believe that many find it difficult when we are confronted with the crosses in our lives. So, let’s talk about that.
All of us have crosses in our lives. Crosses occur when our happiness and our hope are threatened in ways we cannot avoid.
For some of us, our crosses are relatively small. For others, they are overwhelming. Sickness can be a cross. So can disharmony in our family or an important relationship. A cross can be a burden of low self-esteem or depression. It can be a habit of jealousy eating at us or the fear of growing old. Whatever our crosses are, they are with us. When we wake up every morning, they face us. We may for a while forget about them, but soon they reappear at our side, claiming our attention.
If we are able to dispel or escape our crosses, we certainly should. But most crosses are not easy to shake off.
It’s essential to remember that God does not give us crosses. God is the source of goodness, not the source of evil. Crosses come to us because of our imperfection and the imperfection of our world.
The only effective way to deal with the cross is to carry it, to consent to it. We must lift the cross to our shoulders and say, “Yes, this is my cross, and since I cannot avoid it, I will accept it.” Once we put the cross on our shoulders, we are free to move forward into life. Yes, at times the cross is heavy. It is a burden. But it need not prevent us from love and hope. And Christ, who carried his own cross, will be with us.
You see, as long as we deny the cross, or stare at the cross, or drag the cross, Jesus can do nothing. But once we take up the cross, and begin to carry it, Jesus is immediately at our side, supporting us, and saying, “Courage. Let’s take this one step at a time. Follow me into glory.”
It’s through God’s grace, through the love of others, through our own patient endurance that our crosses become lighter to bear.
Crosses are a part of our story just as Jesus’ scars were part of his story. We are only being honest when we say, “Yes, I’m the person whose father died much too young. I’m the one whose demands alienated my daughter. I’m the one whose decisions have placed my family in financial jeopardy.”
Scripture wants us to admit that our injuries are a part of us. Our hurts cannot be erased, they can only be healed. And that is why we must not hide our scars from ourselves or others. They are the signs of healing. They are signs to remind us that that God has been faithful, that others have loved us, that our future can still be blessed—that we can move from death to resurrection.
We simply need to ask God to change us, to make our hearts a manger where we can receive the gifts that only God can give. If we seek relief from fear, we must give ourselves to the Prince of Peace. If we want our anger to dissipate, we must ask God to soften our hearts. If we need relief from suffering, we must open ourselves to God’s love. If we want our family to be whole, we must believe in the God who can make all thing new.
He is always at our side helping us to lighten the weight of our cross.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joyful hope, courage, and boldness to witness the truth of your love for me. Walk with me as I carry my cross in your light.”
Life can be difficult. Each one of us has a cross to bear. But the good news is that our cross is not a punishment but an opportunity. So, when evil strikes, when pain begins, do not be afraid or despair. If we can take up our cross and carry it in Jesus’ name, it need not paralyze us or destroy us. The crosses we carry in Jesus’ name, can transform us into genuine daughters and sons of God!