Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Cross We Bear

"And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself, [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me, [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]." Luke 9:23 Amplified Version

The following passage from my much-treasured devotional Joy and Strength stood out to me several years ago when I was having an especially hard time caring for my elderly father. He has suffered 2 strokes and was left with several disabilities. He has also been diagnosed with dementia. His behavior can be unbelievably bad at times, and his needs and demands can be quite overwhelming. I don't like to think of taking care of my Dad as a cross I have to bear. And yet, as a caregiver for an elderly parent, I have discovered that is indeed a difficult road to walk...for all who do so. I wrote these powerful words on an index card at the time, and carried it with me to meditate on as I walked:

"Your portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfil the will of God, by moulding yourself to that of others. Happy indeed you are thus to bear a cross laid on you by God's own hands, in the order of His Providence. The discipline which we choose for ourselves does not destroy our self-love like that which God assigns us Himself each day. All we have to do is to give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in His arms as a loving mother carries her child. In every need let us look with love and trust to our Heavenly Father." FRANCOIS DE LA FENELON (1651-1715)

Your cross may be different than mine, but nevertheless hard to bear. Take courage from these words, and consider how they agree with the words of Scripture:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." I Peter 1:6-8

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:" I Peter 4:1a (Emphasis mine)

One more good word from the same page:

"The loving heart which seeks to offer all, even disappointments and vexations which touch the tenderest places, to God, will be more likely to grow in generosity of spirit than one who bears grudgingly what cannot be averted." H. L. SIDNEY LEAR (1824-1896)

I find that this message speaks to me again today...my prayer is that His will be worked in my heart, mind and attitude.

No comments: