Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25 (NIV)
When we become believers in sweet Jesus we are no longer under the curse of sin and death. Our sins are forgiven and we are arrayed in Christ’s robe of righteousness. When God looks down at a believer, He sees the perfect life of Christ Jesus – amazing. The curse has been removed yet the cross still remains, Amen? We live in a fallen and broken world. Pain and problems persist. Earth is not heaven and when we try to make it so we will be sorely disappointed. As our Savior did, we must also take up our cross and follow Him.
Our crosses are especially prepared by divine love for each one of us. They are perfectly suited for us and God gives us the grace sufficient to meet the need for each one. We must not judge it too severely. Jesus tells us that we are to submit our shoulders to His easy yoke – not kicking against it or trampling on it in vain conceit or falling under it in dread and despair or fleeing from it in fear or fancy rather embracing it with joy – as Jesus did His cross – knowing that God always has our best interest at heart in all that He allows and He is working something in this (even this) for our good and His glory. We bring Him much glory when we bear the burden of our crosses without grumbling and complaining as that is so otherworldly in its nature.
The cross is not made of feathers nor is it lined with velvet and it is heavy, frustrating and galling to the disobedient shoulders. Yet, love makes all labor light, Amen? And as we carry it we will soon be in love with it and like Moses who would not exchange it for all the treasures in Egypt. Remembering Jesus carried it on His shoulders makes it all the more sweeter as well – as those who claim to live in Him must walk as He did. We can know for certain that our pain always, always has purpose – God is working in and through us to make us more like the Savior. The thought of our glory to come will also lesson our weight of troubles.
cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)