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Tired of Suffering? Look To The Cross

One of the most humbling prayers is "Lord not my will, but Yours". We want things as humans. We pray for the things that we want. When our prayers are not answered in the way we wanted, we get disappointed. The challenge is to abandon what we want in pursuit of what God wants. When we pray for something we want, sometimes the answer we get back is a blunt "no". Other times, it's "not yet", and still others it's a resounding "yes". The urging of the Holy Spirit can be unpredictable. The seasons of separation help us grow in our relationship with the Lord. When we are suffering, He is there with us. There is no suffering on earth that He hasn't experienced. In our pain, we are uniquely invited to join Jesus in His passion. We are not obligated to do so though. We have the freedom to chose it. That's the prerequisite for love.

To choose to love someone every day is an intentional effort. An act of the will. There's a big difference between kindness and love. CS Lewis proposes that kindness is about making the other person happy and avoiding suffering. Love however, is about willing the good of the other for their sake, even if it means enduring suffering. Kindness runs away from suffering, while love embraces it. When faced with unbearable situations, it's natural to think "It's not fair". That's true. Life is not fair. Life is hills and valleys. There will be disappointments, tragedies, and setbacks. If you want to focus on what's unfair, look at Jesus. A completely innocent man condemned to death. Was that fair? Absolutely not. If you're asking for an answer on why life is so unfair, I don't have a good answer. All I can say is God uses suffering and brings good things out of it. We saw this when God took the immense suffering Jesus endured to save the entire world. Through His blood, we are saved. In a business transaction, there is an exchange on both ends. You give me this, and I'll give you that. Yet in offering His life, Jesus did so at no cost to us. He gave everything, spilling His blood on a cross for our salvation. Can there be a more raw and total expression of love?

There's a quote from the movie Set It Up that goes "you like because and you love despite" Meaning we like someone because their attractive, funny, intelligent etc. But we love someone accepting all of them - including their flaws; I love him despite the fact that he has a bad temper at times. We are human and none of us are perfect. Every day we are given a choice; to turn to God or to turn away from Him. Nothing is forced. I remember at a retreat I heard someone say "God will never impose, but He will propose". Each day is an open invitation to embrace God. To recognize the blessings in our lives. In the midst of struggles and challenges, it becomes harder to be grateful for what we have. Our direction can easily be reverted towards what we don't have. When we focus on lack of, that's all we see. " I don't have this, or why can't I have that" This mindset breeds jealousy and envy. Two things that can make our hearts sick, and draw us away from love. Just as Jesus carried His cross, we have our own crosses in this life. Each cross brings with it suffering that's completely unique to the individual. Some suffer mentally, others physically, and still others spiritually.

Carrying our cross builds a gradual spiritual endurance. There are days we want to fight it. Days when you want to run away from it. If you only focus on the pain of suffering, that's all you will see. It becomes unbearable. It's only when we are able to embrace it for love of Jesus and His passion, that suffering becomes purposeful. I have yet to reach this point where I openly accept suffering. To me, it's wild that the saints actually desired to suffer more for love of God. And what I've come to realize is this, to embrace suffering requires love. Marriage is a reflection of this. It's will the good of the other for their sake. And that sometimes requires suffering. The little inconveniences, the annoyances that come up throughout the day. Suffering is not always the big and scary stuff, sometimes it's in the little things. The point to remember in suffering, is God does not give us anything that we can't handle with His grace. That is the great mercy of God. He knows everything about us, and He knows the exact amount of suffering we can take on. Those can be instances to offer to God out of love for the sake of others. Love endures suffering for the sake of another. And the greatest love story ever written was when Jesus died on the cross for all of us.

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