The Blessing of Taking Up Your Cross

Earlier today, I had a great conversation with my Thai tutor about Christians who only seek God’s blessings. These Christians love to cling to the promises of Scripture, yet shy away from keeping the more difficult commands like taking up your cross daily and following Jesus. My friend was specifically referring to a trend he has seen in the Thai church, but I have seen the same thing happening in churches all over the world.

If our life is hard, we say that it must be because of the devil. “Surely, God wouldn’t let me, His child, go through these financial troubles. This has to be spiritual warfare. I actually read a book about this very thing. Huh, what’s that? Yeah, yeah, yeah—I know God allows certain trials in order to test our faith, but this is different. I can just tell, you know? Also, my really godly friend told me that my blessing and breakthrough are on the way.

I apologize for the sarcasm, but does this sound familiar? I think many of us have thought this way before. We associate easy things with God and difficulties with Satan. Success, wealth, and prosperity in life is what we use to gauge our standing with God. If these things are coming in then we must be doing really good. Otherwise, we must not have enough faith, or something.

A few years back, there was a song on the radio that I think helped Christians change the way they think about suffering in this life. It is a song called, “Blessings” by Laura Story. You are probably familiar with it. In the song she talks about all the difficult things we pray for God to take away from us to no avail. In the last line of the chorus she poses this question: “What if trials in this life are you mercies in disguise?”

What a remarkable question. Could it be that the things that cause us the most pain are actually bringing about the most healing? Is it possible that the things that are hard to endure are actually the only things worth enduring? To be clear, I am not talking about the difficulties and pain that comes about from our personal sin. We know God disciplines those whom He loves. I am talking about the times when your world is falling apart all around you and you don’t understand why.

Let me encourage you not to run from the pain. Bring it to the feet of Jesus. Don’t try to solve your problems on your own. Bring them to the Lord in prayer. Finally, brothers and sisters, it is time we stop viewing our crosses as a curse. They are not the same as Jesus’. Jesus took the curse of our sin upon Himself when He died on His cross. Sin is the true root of humanity’s problems. The daily call to die to ourselves and pick up our crosses is actually the greatest blessing in the world because by following Jesus we inherit eternal life. God could take away more things in our earthly lives than He did with Job. If we have Jesus, then we are truly blessed for all eternity.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

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