Then He said, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily …” (Luke 9:23).
Good Friday is a day I both look forward to and dread. I am a very passionate person and I easily take on the feelings and emotions of others. While I appreciate the empathy that allows me to feel for others, it can also be hard on my heart. Good Friday is one of the days my heart is so heavy I nearly trip over it. I tearfully make my way through the first reading each Good Friday, feeling the burden of all Jesus suffered for my sins.
It’s a day I realize how much Jesus suffered for me and how reluctant I can be to suffer myself. Good Friday is a stark reminder that if the greatest, purest, holiest, most awesome man to ever walk this earth experienced suffering, pain, and anguish, what in the world makes me think I should be exempt? Time and again I greet inconveniences and small sufferings with disdain instead of embracing them and allowing them to help me grow in faith.
Little things like a car that won’t start, a checkbook that won’t balance, and a pile of dirty laundry that multiplies at the speed of light are my crosses to bear. Some days I’m a lousy cross-bearer! I like to wiggle and whine and pout. I like to climb on my soapbox and lament the fact that if my family appreciated me and respected me the way I deserved, I would get a little more help and cooperation. Truth is, loving and serving my family with my whole heart is part of my vocation as a mother, and sometimes it is exactly the cross I am called to stumble through the gravel with.
As I sit in the silence of Good Friday, I try to reflect not only on Jesus’ suffering, but on those in my path who have demonstrated Christ-like suffering and who have shown me how to stumble through the gravel more faithfully and gracefully.
I know two women who battled cancer. Upon diagnosis, the first woman said, “Why me, God? I’ve tried to lead a good life; why would You punish me like this?”
The second woman said, “Well, God, why not me? I’m sure You could have picked someone holier and stronger, but You didn’t, so please show me how to use this suffering to bring me and those who love me closer to You.” I know for a fact that the second woman clung to this passage from Luke’s Gospel like a life raft. That woman was my mom!
My mother always said, “The greatest way to serve God is to serve others; so go fold the socks and serve God!” It truly takes a servant’s heart to take up our daily crosses. The burdens and sufferings of our days are meant to help us depend on the love of the Father. The harder we lean on Him as we bear our crosses, the more united we become to Him and the less important our needs, wishes, and desires become. My mom understood that completely and lived that understanding beautifully right to the end!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses you need to “take up” and stumble through the gravel with. Ask God to help you see how to do it gracefully and faithfully. Make a note of someone in your life that bears a heavy cross in an inspiring way and think about what you can learn from their example.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2019 Sheri Wohlfert