The cross represents pain and most of us don’t welcome pain. However pain is necessary for healing. Your physical body uses pain to alert you to deal with an infection, otherwise you could die. The pain of the cross can bring healing to your life so that you can bring glory to God in any circumstance.
Before Jesus Christ—nobody willingly went to the cross. He took up the bloody, despicable cross in order to save mankind from the depths of eternal separation from God. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
When you pick up your cross everyday, your faith is stretched to move beyond what you ever thought possible. Spiritual maturity begins to take root in your heart. What does the cross look like?
#1) Take up the Cross of Unmet Expectations
“But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).
On the road to Emmaus two of Jesus’ disciples were discussing the tragedy of His death on the cross. They believed that Jesus was going to restore the Jewish people to power and crush the oppressive rule of the Romans. However their expectations were unmet due to God’s perfect plan of redemption.
Many times we expect God to move in a direction that is contrary to His overall plan not just for us, but for everyone around us. When we take up the cross of unmet expectations, we turn everything over to God even if we don’t get what we want. Begin everyday with the prayer of surrendering your will to God’s and He will bless you beyond your finite expectations.
#2) Take up the Cross of Unanswered Prayers
“David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground” (2 Samuel 12:1).
David’s son became sick and died as a consequence of his parent’s adultery. Even though David begged and fasted for mercy on behalf of his son—God didn’t answer his prayer as he requested. Immediately after his son’s death, David accepted his unanswered prayer, cleaned up, and worshiped God.
We can pray earnestly like David and it may seem like God is ignoring our request. God answers our prayers according to His will and not ours. Many of us will look back on our requests and thank God for not answering our prayers in the direction we sought. Everyday take up your cross of unanswered prayers and leave them in the hands of the trusted Heavenly Father.
#3) Take up the Cross of Unresolved Issues
“They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39).
Paul and Barnabas came together as a dynamic preaching and teaching team for the early church. Yet in spite of their spiritual maturity and giftedness, they couldn’t come to an agreement about John Mark. Paul didn’t want him to join them because of his earlier desertion, yet Barnabas (the son of encouragement) wanted to give him another chance. As a result, we never learn of Paul and Barnabas together again.
Many of us struggle with not having closure whether its relationships, work projects, or anything we can’t tie up and walk away from. Life on this earth lends itself to incomplete resolutions because we live in a fallen world that is separated from God. It’s possible to leave your cross of unresolved issues before God knowing that He makes all things work together for your good.
#4) Take up the Cross of an Unexpected Crisis
“When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
Esther was living her life as a queen surrounded by the best comforts life had to offer. Her tranquility was disrupted when her uncle, Mordecai, requested her help to save the Jewish people. She initially was hesitant because her life would be at risk. Yet this courageous woman stood up in the time of crisis to deal with the sudden and immediate need of her people.
There’s no invisible shield that protects believers from the unexpected. Many of us live as righteously as we can when suddenly we’re sideswiped with a major trial that demands action. Instead of wilting in fear, doubt, and unbelief—we must everyday take up the cross of an unexpected crisis and ask God for wisdom to deal with it.
#5) Take up the Cross of Unplanned Life Events
“Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband” (Ruth 1:5).
Naomi may have been filled with hope when she left Bethlehem with her husband and two sons. Yet a short time later, she was hopelessly struggling to find her way back home after their deaths. With the assistance of her daughter-in-law, Ruth, she went on an unplanned trip filled with sorrow and bitterness.
The Lord doesn’t allow us to see into the future. How many of us would choose to go back in time and make different choices if we could? Yet if we did, we may never learn the lessons necessary to make us more like Christ. Everyday take up your cross of unplanned life events believing that God knows your future and has a plan for your life.
Are you taking up your cross?
Jesus took up His cross and commands that you take up yours as well. Your cross won’t be easy, predictable, or even manageable. It’s even more difficult if you don’t begin with denying yourself first and following Christ afterward.
The season of taking up your cross has a beginning and an end, but the joy and peace from the Lord lasts forever. He gives you the strength and courage to take up your cross and move forward in grace. Your cross will become a symbol of joy as you follow Jesus’ footsteps to live a fulfilled life of purpose and destiny.
Take up your cross today!
Have you read Crystal’s personal testimony? Read it here:
Resources – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.