“The cross is the center of our relationship with Jesus. . . . the cross is where we die. We go there daily. It isn’t easy. Normally, we follow Christ anywhere–to a party, as it were, where he changes water into wine, to a sunlit beach where he preaches from a boat, to a breezy hillside where he feeds thousands . . . But to the cross? We dig in our heels. The invitation is so frighteningly individual. It’s an invitation to go alone. . . . Thus we live independently of the cross. Or try to. As time passes, the memory of our desperate state when we first believed fades. The cross was something that happened to us ‘back then.’ . . . We would hardly admit it, but we know full well how autonomous of God we operate. This is where God steps in. He permits suffering. . . . Suffering reduces us to nothing . . . . To be reduced to nothing is to be dragged to the foot of the cross. It’s a severe mercy. . . . . When suffering forces us to our knees at the foot of Calvary, we die to self. We cannot kneel there for long without releasing our pride and anger, unclasping our dreams and desires–this is what coming to the cross is all about. In exchange, God imparts power and implants new and lasting hope. We rise, renewed. His yoke becomes easy; his burden light. But just when we begin to get a tad self-sufficient, suffering presses harder. And so, we seek the cross again, mortifying the martyr in us, destroying the self-display. . . . God reveals more of his love, more of his power and peace as we hold fast the cross of suffering.” Joni Eareckson Tada
“We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
2 Corinthians 4:11 NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you sense the cross at work in you in a necessary and daily way?
- Are you letting it strip you of what needs to go?
- Suffering is “severe.” It’s the “mercy” no one wants–but it is mercy. It is love. Unfortunately, the life of Jesus just isn’t formed in us without it. Can you remember this during the next round?
Abba, thank you for your unfailing love in the midst of your severity with me.
For More: When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes