A friend of mine drew a vivid picture for me not too long ago. We were talking about deep desires to do the things the Lord calls us to do, and how sometimes those desires become slightly hushed by the pain they could cause us. It’s bittersweet in its entirety; some aspects are so delightful and some are so painful. Take, for instance, the call to be a missionary in another country. It’s a lovely call, one that’s humbling and awe-inspiring. To be a tool in God’s hand like that? To go serve Him by loving on a foreign people? There are so many benefits and exciting parts to it. But it’s also a call that requires the leaving of family, friends, pets, routine… everything. Leaving what you know and instantly being immersed in everything you don’t know.
It is, as my friend said, living on the cross. As Jesus was hanging on that tree, it must have been bittersweet. So delightful, yet so painful. So delightful to know that He was providing salvation for all of humanity, so that He could be with His children for eternity. So delightful even to see the dedication of His disciples as they wept and mourned for Him. Yet so painful, hanging by nails through the wrists and feet. So painful with the crown of thorns pressed in His head and the open stripes on His back. So painful to know that some of His creation would say no to what He willingly gave them.
Life as a Christian is living on the cross. Of course, we cannot ever endure what our Lord endured. (And for that, we should be ever more grateful that He took it upon Himself!) But we can endure hardship and trials for His Name’s sake. In fact, we will. But, we always have encouragement:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. ‘” Luke 9:23-24
We live on the cross because our Lord lived on the cross. In our trials, we remember His incredible sacrifice. We remember that HE is GOOD, and that our hardships are nothing in light of what He did for us. To suffer for His Name and endure trials and pain on His behalf? What a blessing!
“…Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28