We need to embrace our suffering. We need to embrace that which breaks us. We need to embrace our cross. We need to carry our cross. We need to love our cross just as Jesus did. And by embracing our cross we take on the identity of that cross, and where our identity has been smashed in the past, by this loss, by this grating sense of suffering that we cannot get away from – by embracing it – that which breaks us becomes us, and out of it comes a sense of victory, by the fact that if this can’t break us, nothing can. And it is with that certainty that we are given this gospel; that is the gospel!
In many senses in the First Century church there is the situation where there was so much suffering, so much poverty, and so much marginalisation, whether you were Jew or a Gentile, under Roman law, to consider that suffering was the way that many people came to faith, and by bearing our crosses – those crosses that God has allowed and enabled us to carry – those crosses that God didn’t design but has equipped us to carry – these are the very making of us. Without our crosses borne we cannot be Christian. Without our crosses we make the gospel a fabrication much other religion may be.
Our crosses are the basis of the formation of a new identity that means we can grapple with our reality; we can deal with it, one day at a time, with victory, by God’s provision of power that the world can’t possibly understand. People won’t understand why we are bearing our cross so stoically – but we must do it as Jesus did, for our own wise benefit.
It is with this sense of God being with us, of God making us capable, that we can carry our cross; we can get through and amazingly, in years to come, we will come to be defined by those very decisions we have made in the now – those wise decisions to carry our crosses; to bear them.
We will become shaped by the thing that has occurred to us; this suffering. This worst thing that could have happened comes out to be the best thing, because of what God makes of it, eventually. As we embrace our cross, as we embrace our grief, because, really, there is no other sane choice, when we take a distant view of our situation, as if we were looking from far away, gazing into our situations, we wouldn’t advise ourselves to do anything other than just simply to embrace the suffering and pain, in faith, that God will see us through, for he will if we don’t give up and he will do something with it; not one iota of pain will have gone to waste.
We know there are so many times when we feel God won’t do anything, and there are so many of those times, when we fail, when our faith fails us. But remaining in the game is about not giving up ultimately, though we may give up for an hour or so or a day or longer.
So it is up to us. This is our opportunity. When we have been dealt a crippling blow, we take God at his word, that he will restore us, because he does. But the key to it all is we must embrace our suffering as we picture Jesus clinging to his cross, kissing it even, as we do likewise.
Not only would Jesus not give up, but he would be thankful, because he was going to the Father. He was most certainly going to the Father. And that time was very, very close. And for us, as we approach our suffering the same way, we imagine what it will be like to be with the Father, we know that embracing our suffering brings us closer to the Father in the very act, embracing our cross; the crosses we bear.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.