With the coming of the Holy Week, we are reminded of the presence of the cross in our life. We will always have a cross to carry in our life, because the cross is the consequence of sin, and all of us have sinned, starting with our original sin and worsened by our personal sins. This is a fact of life that we should not any more question. We need to confront it squarely, since it actually carries good news.
If we would only meditate on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, we would realize that our cross is related to the cross of Christ, that our cross can and should be a sharing of Christâ€™s cross.
Thatâ€™s when we would realize the crucial role Christâ€™s cross plays in our life. Itâ€™s the cross that assumes all the crosses we can meet in our life, that is, all our weaknesses, mistakes, miseries, sins, and all forms of suffering including death. The cross of Christ is what bears all our crosses, as Christ bore all the sins of men.
The Book of Isaiah affirms this: â€œSurely our grief He himself bore, and our sorrows he carriedâ€¦â€ (53,4) This is reiterated in the First Letter of St. Peter: â€œHe himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For by his wounds you were healed.â€ (2,24)
How wonderful to put our faith in these divinely inspired words! If we manage to put our belief in them, then there would be nothing in this life that can cause us to worry more than we should.Â Godâ€™s mercy and goodness will always have the last word, not his divine wrath.
This belief is important to calm down our understandable sadness, and even bitterness, when we experience some great suffering in life, be it coming from a persistent personal misery that refuses to go away, or from some external causes that leave us with great pain.
Many of us can find ourselves in situations of so long and seemingly endless and meaningless pain and suffering that we cannot but fall into sadness, bitterness and despair. But this should not be so.
When we find ourselves in such situations, we should strongly remind ourselves that nothing happens in this life without at least God allowing them to happen. And if he allows them to happen, it is because a greater good can always be derived from them.
We should not therefore stay too long in feeling bad.Â Staying too long in that condition can mean we are proud, we prefer to follow our own feelings than what Godâ€™s providence has meant for these bad things to happen.
Itâ€™s worthwhile to develop certain immunity from being overly scandalized by our own weaknesses, failures and sins, and by our own suffering, because that reaction if prolonged can only give an opening for the devil to exploit. The devil likes to worsen things.
We just have to learn how to bear the cross, how to suffer, not only with patience and tolerance, but also with great serenity and joy. In the first place, God does not allow us to suffer more than we can bear.
St. Paul assures us of this truth. â€œNo temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also that you will be able to endure it.â€ (1 Cor 10,13)
Besides, God is always magnanimous as manifested in the image of the Old Testament Joseph who was magnanimous to his brothers who sold him. â€œAs for you,â€ he said, â€œyou meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.â€ (Gen 50, 20)
We have to learn to see things beyond what our senses and even our own human estimations can only capture. We have to see things with the eyes of faith so we can see, at least in broad strokes, the merciful ways of Godâ€™s providence that allows suffering to happen in our life.
We should just be quick to go to God, asking for mercy, help, cure or relief. If he wants us to suffer more and even up to our death, it could only mean that God wants us to share more intimately in the redemptive suffering of Christ for the atonement of the sins of men which can also be numberless.
Suffering in that case would be a great privilege and blessing. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)