Recently my sister and I were having a discussion about how our culture has changed into a “you deserve this” culture. As in, “you’ve had a hard day, you deserve this drink” or “you did a great job, here’s a reward” and of course “but they are such good people, they don’t deserve this.” We do it without noticing it, we feel that we deserve the same things, the same lives, the same blessings as everyone else because that’s what would make us happy, and God is all about us being happy, right?
Well right, and wrong.
See the problem with us gauging what we deserve and don’t deserve is that it doesn’t leave room for God and what he chooses for us. Whether we feel like those things are things we deserve or not. Let’s talk a minute about what we deserve. My sister, the same one with who I had this conversation, is a mother to four beautiful children, one of whom is severely disabled. My niece suffers from a neurological disorder. She is four years old and has never talked, walked, held her head up, or stood independently. She is riddled with seizures, endures numerous medical procedures, medications and is constantly fighting against the next virus or bacteria that will put her fragile body into the hospital.
Is this fair? Does she deserve this? Has she done anything in her short life that’s warranted a life that will be spent in a wheelchair, never able to run around like a typical four year old? No. The answer is no. It isn’t fair, and no she doesn’t deserve it. But God is present, He’s still there, He’s present and unfailing.
As Christians we are called to carry crosses, much like Jesus did to Calvary. All crosses look different, feel different and at some points have different weights. Some are physical, some are emotional, some spiritual. All are hard at times. Because of the weight of original sin no one gets to go through life without a cross to bear.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus says
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Deny himself. Those are Jesus’ words. Deny ourselves of what we think we deserve, of what we think we should have from life, and live the life that He wants us to live.
Although they can sometimes seem to bear too much weight, our crosses are never without reward. We are rewarded with eternal happiness, with eternal life with Christ. We are not asked to walk a life
of hardship, of difficulty, of pain alone. We are never told to bear those experiences without the love, the truth and the way of the Lord.
My niece is four and unable to speak. Her cross is a physical one, one that inhibits her from sayingwhat’s on her mind- but the love of the Lord, and the power of the Holy Spirit allows her to light up a room, and let me tell you, does she shine! Anyone who has met her falls in love with her. Her smile, her eyes, her small coos make more people stop and listen than I have ever seen. She was given a cross, a heavy one, but with that cross came something so special, the ability to let others see the innocence, the beauty of God’s creation.
In a life following Jesus, there will be hardships, there will be pain. There will occasionally be times that we must deny ourselves and the things that we desire and in turn go towards what Jesus wants and what he desires for us. We are called to do this, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Look to what Christ is calling you to do, where He’s leading your life. Ask for guidance, ask for the courage to take up your cross and know that it’s a journey you will never have to make alone.
Reflect: We talked a lot about crosses to bear- what is your cross to bear? Have you ever stopped to wonder what life would be like without that cross? In what ways does it make you stronger and bring you closer to Christ?
Act: Today, I ask you to pray for courage. Courage to bear your cross, courage to ask for help when needed and the courage to help others with their journey to Christ. When you come across someone struggling with their cross, be sure to pray for them. Make yourself available to someone you know is struggling with something in their life.