It’s Holy Week. We commemorate civilization being forever changed. Once upon a time, a cross was a medieval weapon of torture, humiliation and oppression. Today it stands tall for freedom, peace, human dignity and everlasting life.
The world’s reconciliation with its Creator wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. As Christ himself showed us, our faith will get us to Heaven, but it won’t earn us a trouble-free life. Not every day can be a good day, and that’s actually part of the plan. Looking at those bad days through the prism of the Cross is the key to meaning and purpose. Here are seven universal takeaways:
You will be falsely accused. There aren’t many things that hurt more than our reputations being tainted by a lie. Satan himself is called “the accuser”.
So how did Jesus just stand there and allow himself to be verbally abused in that sham of a trial? I think since he knew all things, he understood how important the mission was. We don’t have God’s foresight, but we have his word, his promises. Trusting that God is always with us gives us confidence that the truth will be revealed, and we will be vindicated. We just need patience and courage. The feeling of vindication will always last longer than the temporary hurt of a false accusation, sort of like when the Lord stepped out of the tomb on Sunday morning.
You will have to answer to opposition. The time will come when you will report to those who oppose you, who don’t understand you and may not even view the world like you. Jesus spent his time on earth answering to those who didn’t have his wisdom and vision, yet he humbled himself and allowed them to have authority over him.
There is a saying that people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. Unless you are just starting out, you’ve had at least one bad boss. If you can’t outlast that unfortunate situation, tune up the resume and ask God to open the right door. Remember when life gets tough, our faith can pay dividends.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
You will be treated harshly. Since this is unavoidable, here’s your crash course on redemptive suffering. The world proclaims that “suffering” is a fate worse than death. Listen to those who argue in favor of abortion and euthanasia and you will hear a litany of excuses as to why death is made to look like a simple and compassionate solution to a complex problem. Meanwhile, God chose to save the world through suffering, his own! Today the Church is the body of Christ; we are his hands and feet, his eyes and mouth. Our suffering, when offered up to God for specific redemptive intentions, are united with Christ’s on the cross. That is, our sufferings are seen by God as Christ’s.
When we’re treated harshly we are given a gift to offer it up for our sins, our family’s sins, the sins of our country, the entire Church or even the world, including the most unrepentant souls and those who persecute the Church.
You will fall, and you must get back up. Never quit. The Lord fell while lugging that cross down the road. He kept his eyes on the prize. He needed to finish. For us the prize is Heaven, not a bonus or a better office. And when we fall, Heaven is worth getting back up for. Troubles at work may not seem to have eternal consequences, but how we handle them does! If you have a business or career failure, dust yourself off with dignity and begin again. If you fail personally (sin), confess it and begin again. You may want to give up and just be done – but then you’ll never finish. Being done is very different from finishing. Finishing is worth getting up. There is only forward! Never quit.
You will have the opportunity to help others. Due to the intense scourging, there was concern Jesus would die before reaching the top of Golgotha. The Centurions made Simon help Jesus carry the cross. I guarantee Simon had better things to do, in his mind. However God had ‘greater’ things planned for him. Each time the crucifixion story is retold, for two thousand years, we see Simon coming in from the fields and helping Christ. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it, but he said yes, he helped and made history. Likewise, you never know when the phone will ring, or email will arrive, asking for your help when you have other plans. Be a helper and you may just have a lasting impact.
You will have the opportunity to show mercy. Here is the fastest and easiest way to stand out from the crowd! Selfishness is easy and all too common. The world tells us to put people in their place, to criticize and finger point. But do we want to be like the world, or do we want to be like Christ? He didn’t come into the world to condemn it but to save it.
“Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8.
You will have the opportunity to give everything. Finally, here is how we become invaluable to those around us. The path to lasting success is in giving not receiving. Why? When our focus is receiving, we can easily justify manipulating circumstances to favor ourselves and taking from others. If we focus on giving, we step out of ourselves and teach, nurture, encourage, coach, advise, and in the process the fruits of our labor multiply, we grow, we endear, we influence, we appreciate!