You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps. 1 Peter 2:21
I did not understand the symbol of the cross as a faith youngster because I was looking for faith to solve my problems. I believed that if I had enough faith and learned how to live directed by my faith – my life would turn out peachy. I defined the “abundant” life as a life free of anxiety and worry. Which is a nice thought, but if that is true, why do the angels who show up for faithful people in the bible always seem to lead with, “Fear not!”?
To answer my own question, I don’t think it is because faithful people never experience fear. It seems to me that the angels are responding to the fear that these folks are feeling. And it’s natural. And it’s ok to feel fear; a decent angel seeks to reassure, not condemn.
The cross is actually the perfect symbol for our faith. Because it speaks to God’s love AND suffering as part and parcel of a faith experience.
I participate in a recovery community and it feels like we take more shots than the average spiritual community should have to take. Overdoses. Suicides. Stubborn resistance to treatment that results in betrayals, divorces, and a host of poor decisions. The cross reminds me that this is not a terminally unique situation. Christians are CONSTANTLY messing stuff up even in traditional church settings. In this way, our little community is quite blessed; we have no giant theological hurdles to overcome because we already know that the old message of “I was lost; I found Jesus; now I am fine.” is baloney. We know it is possible to not only find Jesus but love him and STILL have chronic problems. The problems still break our hearts but at least we are not saddled with the burden of having to pretend that they do not exist. We are thankful for angels who cry out, “Fear not!” and crosses that remind us that God loves large.
So I ask you: what is it that you need to endure in order to be faithful to what you believe and congruent in what you do on a daily basis because of these beliefs? What needs to change? What needs fixin’?