I get the sense that right now it is very important for Christians to say yes to the crosses that Jesus hands them.
Suffering comes to all, regardless of our disposition to it. And it is true that there are sufferings we bring on ourselves. It isn't right to credit Jesus for every struggle we face. But what I mean here is that when Christians are living an honest commitment to their baptismal covenant, not harboring or nurturing sin, not living primarily forgetful lives, not placing God as a figurehead or a cultural flag somewhere in their self-identity package, but actually thinking like a disciple who wants to follow, to these, there is a call sounding. Take up your cross, and follow me.
Pious statements roll easily off the back, and this one is no exception. That's why we need to pay attention.
Jesus entrusts crosses to us. Get that. Jesus chooses them, and He hands them out. There is nothing random here, and there is nothing sadistic. God does not delight in our suffering. God delights in His children.
Wait, what? Isn't that a contradiction? If God delights in us, why does He allow us to suffer? It is the path to knowing God, from the inside out if you will. We don't say yes to the objective evil of the things that cause us the pain. We say yes to Jesus, who holds it all. Saying yes to Jesus, saying yes to His cross, is our step, in union with the One who loves us. Union means being deeply with. When we say yes to the cross Jesus hands us, we say yes to being deeply with Him.
When we are deeply with Him, not only are we freed, healed, brought peace, and filled with God's life (probably in the face of the objective evil remaining steady), but we also become a highway, a means for freedom, healing, peace and life to flow into this world. We become the means of God's mission going forward. We build God's kingdom.
God doesn't need our means, our power, our riches. He doesn't need our lives to be perfect or trouble free. He doesn't need us to be secure in the things of this world. He needs our yes. He needs hearts that want to be deeply with Him more than we want any other good or pleasure.
And this all pivots on a very difficult point: Trust.
We have to trust that God is good. We have to trust that God is good.
We experience so much that is not-God, even in the name of love, religion, friendship, and... God. And just look at the central image of the Christian faith, the crucifix. That hurt. Really bad. How do we trust a God who has that as His plan?
When all we want to do is shake our fists and scream and curse the evil and curl up in a ball and hide, how do we trust that God is good?
Start with the fact that you exist. You did not make you. God did. Even if you do not like what He made and see nothing good in it, you are the evidence of a power greater than yourself. And that power gave. Start right there by saying thank you, and yes.
Christian, your yes is very important. God will meet your needs and open your eyes to see beyond the ache in your heart. He who is mighty has promised. And He is asking and calling you to do your part in His plan for the rest of needy humanity. So, say yes to what He entrusts to you. Remember heaven. On that shore, we'll never regret it.