Loved to the Cross

No pain, no gain?

One of the deepest tragedies in the Christian life is to flee from human suffering, forgetting the prime existence of a Savior who has already proven to be victorious. Neglecting our necessary dependence on Christ challenges the truth of the gospel that we may preach to others, and questions if we, as Christians, sincerely believe that God is who he really says he is.

Suffering sucks. Let’s admit it. Death, betrayal, failure, all forms of illness, rejection, insecurity, and anything else you can think of…they all suck. Nobody desires to suffer every day, and that’s real because God has made us for excellence, radical joy, and probably the best dance party of our lives in heaven.

But here’s the thing about suffering from a Christian perspective: we should not be surprised to undergo intense suffering throughout our lives. Jesus, crucified after his most piercing surrender at the Garden of Gethsemane, shows us that the suffering we experience cannot afford to be wasted. Pain bears great fruit because there is always a grander mission to accomplish, and there is always the Father to use everything for His good. Without the Passion, the gospel would be incomplete, and God’s promises would be left unfulfilled. Suffering, in other words, introduced a divine interruption to the cries of the human soul, providing a redemptive reality that we are not alone when we ache in darkness.

Perseverance with Christ’s power leads us to a life of excellence, holiness, and fervent faith. Chosen with the deepest charity, we cannot forget that Jesus is the only way to succeed, thrive, and genuinely experience the deepest joy. Rather than fleeing from human suffering, we are called to flee from any false securities that may deter us from solely depending on God; faith requires a childlike dependency on the Father, and that brings forth springs of freedom and adoration for God like never before.

Depending on someone other than yourself at first seems incredibly perilous…almost life-threatening, if you will. And it should; it’s in our human nature! But the nuance here is that it is not being dependent on your parents, best friends, or siblings…it is being totally dependent on the divine and sacred Creator, Giver, Provider, Leader, and Protector: the sole God the Father, Abba. This distinction is extraordinary! When we recognize that solely Jesus is it, that the Lord is true in what He says and does, that everything in this world could perish but our thirst and hunger would be completely satiated with Jesus besides us…our faith dramatically transforms and blooms into a new genesis. Childlike dependency on Christ changes absolutely everything because it is the re-offering of the totality of your being; you were always His, but now with your own loving surrender practiced by your free will, He welcomes you home again and again and again, similar to the prodigal son who was embraced and kissed by the father immediately (Luke 15).

What a joy that God desires a relationship with you, and will always give you what you need to persevere and even rejoice in amidst agony. What a joy that when you suffer in this life, his deep compassion prevents you from enduring all alone. What a joy that we were not made for an easy life. What a joy that crucifixion was not and will never be the end of the story.

You, my friend, are worth dying for! How precious and beloved you must be. And there is not one bit of suffering in this world that you are not equipped to endure, for it is His perseverance and His courage that fuels you until the end.

Trust in his faithfulness. He will never lead you to a fire to leave you there. Surrender your heart, pray, and watch what our God can do. I’m praying for you!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

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