Embracing the Cross

“Where there is life, there is hope.” – Bilbo Baggins

My husband and I have been married for just over ten years. Not a long time, but enough of a span to have learned a thing or two about the “for worst” part of our vows. We’ve weathered a deployment, nine moves, five pregnancies, one conversion process, depression, anxiety, family separations and heartache, legal challenges, and enough financial strain to make your head spin. There have been days when the only prayer I could I utter were the words Jesus spoke on the cross in agony: “My God, My God – why have You abandoned me?!”

My crosses are real. They threaten to crush me under their immense weight. I feel alone, struggling to breathe. Like the walls are closing in, and there’s no way out.

In the opening of St. James’ letter to the dispersed Church, in the midst of great persecutions, he writes: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4.)  Excuse me? Consider it all joy? The heartache? The pain? The soul-crushing horror? How?! How am I supposed to do that?

Looking back at each of my crosses, I see where God used them to help me grow in love, in kindness, in humility (He keeps sending me the crosses to help with my humility…), in goodness, in mercy, in compassion, and in forgiveness. He is calling me to holiness, and providing me a way to get there. He is calling me to sainthood, to perfection. To completion.  And for this? For this, I am grateful for my crosses. If they bring me closer to Jesus, I daresay I love them. And with His help, I can even learn to embrace them. With joy.

What about you, sister? Pour yourself a cup of hot tea – or coffee with a splash of Bailey’s – and consider the crosses in your life. Pray about the one that is leaving you breathless. Weak. Tired. In that  moment, thank God for the opportunity to grow closer to Him. Ask Him to help you find the joy.

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