I met a man last week who shared with me how for years he was angry with God for allowing him to have the disease of addiction. He prayed fervently for God to take away his cross, but God never did. After years of wrestling with God and crying “why, why, why?” he finally surrendered and only then did he realize his disease had actually been a gift in disguise. He overcame his addiction and his struggle to stay sober motivated him to become a Deacon and help other people recover from their addictions by offering them retreat services and counseling.
Listening to this man share his story brought to mind my cousin Susan’s words to me. You may remember me writing about Susan in an earlier blog called “trust”. She has carried more crosses than any person I have ever known. I wrote about one cross in her life, but she has had many. I recently shared with her a cross I had and she told me to change my perception of how I think things should be and accept things how they are. By doing this I will be letting go and trusting God to teach me what he wants to teach me because if I don’t, these situations will continue to resurface in my life until I do. She says when struggles arise ask God, “what is it you want me to learn from this?” and then learn it.
Taking her advice and looking back at my crosses over the years I realized she and this man were right. All the things I thought were so bad for me turned out to be gifts in disguise. The situations that I found the hardest to go through were the ones that I learned the most from.
With this wisdom in front of us, imagine how life would be if we looked at our crosses with joy and an opportunity to grow in a way that we could never do without. This is what St. Francis did. He learned to love the cross so much that you often see him pictured gazing at it with love. He took to heart the scripture from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: 8-12
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Taking our cue from St. Francis and St. Paul, let us no longer carry our crosses with sorrow and pain, but pure joy. Joy that turns the hard wood of our crosses as light as a feather, allowing God to blow us where he will to land on the path that leads to Him.