Have you ever felt those times when the cross you’re carrying seems heavier than it should be? Much heavier than you can bear? Much heavier than the crosses other people are carrying? In fact, why carry your heavier cross?
Our crosses it seems, vary greatly in the burden and the difficulties they inflict upon us. Why do some crosses appear to be far easier? And why do some appear to be so huge and heavy, our trust upon God’s wisdom and justice is already shaken to its very core?
We see rich, beautiful people whose only problem it seems, are the next orders they’re going to pick from the menu. And then we see beggars who don’t even have a place to sleep at when night falls. We see celebrities gambling loads of money in a casino. And then we see parents doing back-breaking work day after day, just so they could send their children to school. We see politicians squandering the wealth of the nation, and getting credit for the small portion of funds spent in useless undertakings. And then we see cancer victims, fighting for their next breath, not knowing where in God’s hands they’re going to get the amount needed to provide for the family they’re going to leave behind.
Where indeed is fairness in this life? Where is the easy yoke we have been promised to bear? Is God already playing favorites here? Why a heavier cross to bear?
Oftentimes, when people start asking these questions, the only response they get is something like one of these:
“God works in mysterious ways.”
“Stop that! You’re doubting God’s wisdom.”
“See? There is really no God who guides His people. Either He isn’t real, or He isn’t really good.”
I would not be content with those answers though. There must be some answers more satisfying than those. Following are some of the answers I believe in:
1. We don’t really know the burden people are carrying within
People may appear happy on the outside, but they may actually be crying terribly within. However well-off they appear to be, secret hurts may just be tearing them apart.
Never ever believe instantly the external strengths you see, the smiles that greet your eyes. For sometimes beneath those smiles are tears, and beneath that strength is a yearning to break out and to be understood.
Do we see people who earn more in a day what we could possibly earn in a year? Do we see people who look so happily established in their married lives? Do we see healthy people who can do whatever they want to do be it mountain climbing or spelunking or sky diving? Do we see them and envy them and wish so hard we were the ones in their shoes?
The fact is, there are some things we don’t really see. We don’t see the sad children whose parents are so busy working their way up the corporate ladder. We don’t see lonely wives who have lost their self worth and sunk unto the everyday routine they needed to keep. We don’t see consciences being seared just so money can be earned and ambitions can be reached. We don’t see hearts crying out in loneliness amidst all the external blessings the world believes them to possess.
We don’t see many things. Surely not the things people wanted to hide. They are the only ones who know the true weight of their crosses, and there is no way we could possibly get in their shoes in order to make a fair comparison with the burdens we carry upon our shoulders.
2. We sometimes carry crosses that are not really ours
If you feel you’re carrying so much more burden than you could possibly bear, pause for a while and ponder whether the cross you’re carrying is your own cross and not another one’s burden.
Ask youself, “Is this cross the one God really wants me to bear? Or is this suffering something I have only insisted on inflicting upon myself?”
There are many crosses we insist on carrying, loads we are not suppose to carry in the first place. Due to our stubborness however, we refuse to let it go.
We refuse to forgive the people who have hurt us, because we do not believe they deserve to be forgiven. We refuse to forget our past wounds because we want to get even with those who have caused us pain. We refuse to lay our burdens to God because we don’t trust Him enough to believe everything will be taken care of. Sometimes we even refuse to let other people carry their own crosses because we believe we are the only ones capable of doing the right thing.
Carry only your own cross, my friend. That is all that is asked of you.
3. We do not see that our crosses are in proportion to the strength given us
We may be carrying a far bigger cross upon our shoulders, but have we ever cared to know the resources given us to be able to carry that cross? We were so busy comparing the size of our crosses with our neighbors’, but have we ever cared to compare the strength we have with the strength that they possess?
My friend, the cross given you is in direct proportion to your strength. The pain you bear is in direct proportion to the tolerance that you possess. We may be carrying different kinds of burdens, but we cannot really say that the difficulty we encounter are far different from the troubles others are going through.
Are you in pain? So am I. Were you hurt? So have I. But you can never say you were more hurt than I have been because you have never ever been me, not even for a single moment. You do not have my weaknesses. You do not have my strengths. I do not have the wealth of your previous experiences. And I do not have the people who support you in your hour of need.
Stop comparing one another’s crosses, because in truth, there is no way that we can really be able to compare them.
4. We do not avail of the unlimited strength being offered by God to help us carry our cross
There are many times when all that we can see are the huge crosses we carry upon our shoulders. We see how weak we are. We see how tired and exhausted we have been. But we do not see God’s hand reaching out to help us. We do not see the strength being offered us when our own powers are no longer enough.
Maybe our financial condition is just enough to feed one child, but just when we’re least expecting it, another one comes along contrary to what we have planned. Maybe we feel so alone, and the only person who has ever been there to support us suddenly leaves, never ever to return. We feel helpless and broken. And we do not have the strength anymore to face the challenges that come our way.
It is during these times that we should keep our hopes up and believe that a Higher Power will see us through. Help will come just in time, just when we needed it, just when we have given our last ounce of strength.
You may think of how limited your resources are at the moment, but a better opportunity may already be on its way. You may think you’ve lost everyone who has ever cared for you, and yet the one who will love you like you’ve never been loved before may just be standing outside the door, knocking, hoping you wouild just open the door and let him in.
There is a God who watches over us, and who sends His angels before us to guard us and to guide us along the path He has prepared for us. He will never let us down. He will not give us crosses too heavy for us to bear. And just when we think our crosses are getting bigger, He will give us more strength, more power than we believed we could ever possess. So just hang in there a minute more. Hope. Believe in miracles. They still come true, you know.
5. We see no purpose in carrying our crosses
Then Jesus said to his discipled, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
“Follow me.” That’s what Jesus said. And in following Him, we are to forget ourselves and carry our crosses. Our goal would be to follow Jesus, not to be able to carry our crosses.
Have you ever had such a great drive to achieve a dream? A drive so great you are tremendously inspired to reach for your dream whatever sacrifices you may have to make along the way? Have you ever had such a loved one, someone so special you were willing to undergo hell just so you can always be with the person?
It’s the same with carrying our crosses. Carrying our burden is merely incidental to our true goal. We must be passionate enough, enamored enough, enthralled, raptured, captivated, powerfully moved in following our life mission, it doesn’t matter whatever difficulties may come along. We know we could overcome anything, for the prize ahead is worth far more than the sacrifices we are to make along the way.
We have to know our purpose and our destiny. Otherwise, we would just be focusing on our crosses, complaining how heavy and difficult they are.
It is only in being driven towards our greatest and utmost passions and desires that we are able to forget ourselves and bear the burdens we never knew we’d be capable of
The crosses that come our way were never meant to hinder us from reaching our God-given destiny. They were meant to help us and strengthen us so we can be the kind of persons we are supposed to be. The greater one’s cross is, the greater is the opportunity and the gift attached to it, if only we could take our eyes off our suffering for a moment, and see the blessings being poured upon us in the process.
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out. (1 Cor. 10:13)Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light. (Matthew 11:28)