by Jack C Corcoran
Luke 9:23… “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior of the world; His entire ministry was leading Him to the cross. He was totally committed to that end in obedience to God the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3;16
And Jesus says we must “pick up our cross and follow Him.” What did He mean when He said to take up our cross? Are we all supposed to be crucified? I think it is a figure of speech; a metaphor. I believe Jesus is telling us to follow Him even unto death. In other words; to die to self (deny yourself); give up your sinful life and live a godly life.
2 Tim 3.12 says… “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” and 1 Pet 2.21 says… “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Mt 10.22 says… “You will be hated by everyone because of me, and Philippians. 1.29 tells us “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”
God’s word in Philippians 4:7 promises us peace “the peace that transcends all understanding” but how can we find peace in suffering? How can we rejoice in our pain? Can we really do that?
Allow me to tell you a short story that is actually the reason for me writing this today.
Today is Monday, March 21, 2016. This past Saturday, March 19, 2016 marked about three days of loneliness and despair. By the time I awoke on Saturday morning I was miserable; I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I thought that if I moved at all, my heart was going to break. I was really down in the dumps. All day long I did nothing but stomp around this little apartment I call home. I had broken my toe on Tuesday and couldn’t get my shoe on so I couldn’t just up and leave.
And then at exactly 7 pm I received a text message from a dear brother in the Lord. I live in Indiana and he and his wife now live in Florida. I was so glad he had texted instead of calling like he usually does. I did not wish for him to see me in this mood. I suppose God knew that also.
For several minutes we talked about weather, and I caught him up on another mutual friend of ours. As we continued to talk, I continued to feel miserable and was thankful that he couldn’t see me. When suddenly a Scripture popped into my mind. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” (Mt. 18:20)
And suddenly, I blurted out, “Please pray for me, Bob. I really need it.” And , without hesitation, he said; “I sure will, what’s the matter?”
And I dumped on him. “I don’t know why God is letting all this happen. In the past two years I’ve had a stroke, I’ve had cancer, and now I’m getting a divorce from my unfaithful wife. I signed the papers a week ago.”
And, without a beat, my friend, Bob, reminded me of something I had told him a few years ago when we worked together here in Greensburg. He said; “You’ve always told me that God has a purpose for us and He will make it happen on His time. Keep the faith brother and I will be praying for you.”
By now I was tearing up and feeling really stupid for the way I was behaving and then he added; “I will put you down on our prayer list tomorrow at our bible study group.”
I just barely typed my response; ty. And I hung up and bawled like a baby.
And when I knelt beside my bed that evening, I could barely pray. I was so mentally exhausted, I couldn’t think so I just thanked God for such a good friend and climbed into bed.
I got up Sunday and went through the day with a little more enthusiasm. I even practiced on my guitar and managed a few gospel songs. But today, O praise the Lord for today. I believe my brother in Florida kept his promise yesterday and I believe Jesus fulfilled His promise. I woke up today praising God so I’m sure they must have been praying for me yesterday and Jesus showed up.
I usually have a 15-20 minute bible reading as soon as I get up in the morning, no matter what. Yes, even through those days of misery and despair. But today, I started reading at about 8 am and I finally stopped around 4 pm to write this. I am full of joy and praise because I know that my suffering will eventually bring joy and peace. I suppose that deep down in my heart I knew it all along but I let the enemy in somewhere along the line and he was playing havoc with my emotions.
Yes, my friends, we can find peace and joy in our suffering but we can’t do it alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Jesus says we must join with others if we want His attention. I haven’t contacted my friend in Florida yet but as soon as I finish here, I will send it to him so he can be blessed.
Yes, the answer is yes; we can find joy and peace in our suffering. And I will leave you with these words from Paul in Galatians 2:20… “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Hallelujah Lord God, thank you Jesus, the Prince of peace. God bless you all and peace to you all through Christ Jesus.