Suffering is everywhere. Everyone has it to some degree. No one can escape it. We all have something in our life right now that is very difficult, even overwhelming... something that is trying to push you over the edge into the pit of despair. Something that weighs like a thousand boulders on your heart, your mind, perhaps even your body. No one else sees it. No one else feels its. It haunts you relentlessly, trying to coax out of you those two little words, "I quit." You want released from it, healed from it, delivered, freed. But it's not happening. And so, now, it seems that much heavier.
This "thing" that tortures you, it has a name. My friend, it is called the Cross. Its purpose is not to crush you, but to save you. Because here's the thing: there is no victory without a contest. There is no strength without strength-training. There is no growth without stretching.
The Cross is not in your life for your demise. It is not here to suck the life out of you. On the contrary. It is here to put life into you, to build you up.
Sometimes it is hard to see it this way, I know. Pain is often like a thick dark fog that descends upon us. It surrounds us, encloses us. We can't see beyond it, and it feels like we suffocate in it.
But... But.... if we ask for the Light of God to shine upon it. If we ask for the breath of God to breathe into it, and scatter the fog... then we might be able to see it differently, for what it truly is.
We might be able to see the actual contest at hand, and we might be able to carry on. Like a tired runner, who gets a second wind on the last lap because he knows Victory is near. Or the player who digs deep for overtime, because he desperately wants the trophy that's up for grabs.
It is true God may have put another weight on the bar of your Cross. It may now actually be the heaviest you've ever had to lift. But do not fear it. In His omnipotence, it has been carefully weighted according to your exact strength. It is NOT one ounce more than you can handle. It will not crush you.
It is set before you as an opportunity to "do your thing." This is the key that will unlock a new strength within you. It will unveil a new level of champion.
Your Heavenly Father did not allow this for your ruin. He has not abandoned you in it. No, my friend. No, no, no. He is right beside you, cheering you on, whispering to your fainted soul, "I'm here to help. You can do this. I believe in you."
Whether or not you believe in Him, He believes in you. And He who created you is ready to show you what you're made of. He's ready to breathe more power into you, reveal hidden potential inside of you, mold a new champion out of you.
But you have to pick up that Cross. You have to consent to the challenge. He will not force you to become more. He will let you sit the bench, even quit the team, if that's what you want to do. But that is not His Plan for you.
His plan is to use these contests to train a great and mighty saint. His plan is to lead you through the valley of tears across the finish line of glory. His plan is to crown you in the victors camp... to give you rest in the Heavenly Kingdom.
The question is: will you work for it? Will you fight for it? You may be discouraged right now by the marathon ahead. You may think the suffering has gone on for too long, that you can't go on another day like this. But, my friend, this life on earth is but a blip on your eternal timeline. A small, little, tiny sliver. Not even a sliver. A sliver of a sliver.
Someday you will fall asleep to this life and wake to a new life that does not cease, where there is no suffering, no tears, no anxiety, no pain. Then you will look back on all this and see how little it was. Then you will understand that it was for just a moment that you had to carry this.
So press on, dear soul. Press on. God is with you.
As He said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Today my prayer is that the fog will lift and each of you will have eyes to see the contest, a mind to accept the challenge, a spirit to lift high the Cross, and a heart to obtain the crown.
May peace - true, deep, lasting peace - be with you all.