How do you react to the following words? –

…Bed of roses

…On top of the world

…Cloud nine

…7th heaven

Doesn’t it remind you of your dream life? your preferred future? your life’s goal?  – “Oh yes! That’s what I really want!”

The pleasant, the good, the easy, the unruffled, the happy and abundant life is what each of us craves for, prays for, strives for, and works for.

This was the life people hoped for and so they followed the Lord expecting to be assured he would give it to them.

Imagine their surprise when the Lord, opened his mouth and said: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This is the iconic promise of the Lord – the cross!

Not money, but the cross

Not comfort, but the cross

Not bliss, but the cross

Not peace, but the cross

Not health, but the cross

What was Jesus thinking? Did he not care that he dashed people’s hopes and destroyed their dreams? Did he not know that people wanted to avoid the cross at all costs? It is words like these that make people today turn away from the Lord and follow another path…

The Lord was not being a kill-joy… he was being realistic.

For life is not a fantasy world.

Real life is a challenge, a struggle, a race, a mystery to be solved.

In this life, we encounter crosses at all turns.

…the cross in relationships at home and at work

…the cross in earning a living

…the cross in sickness, in accidents, in misfortunes

…the cross in pain, confusion, and sadness

…the cross in betrayal, deception, and lies

…this cross, that cross, and so many other crosses only you know and experience today

The Lord is realistic. Though he wants only the best for us, he knows and teaches us that the best will only come through effort, through pain, through hard work, through patience… through the cross.

Our dream for a great life is also Jesus’ dream for us, and more than that in fact. He wants us to reach heaven, where all our desires will be fulfilled.

But there is no short cut to heaven. The crosses of our lives form the ladder to the attainment of heavenly joy.

I sometimes cannot reply when people ask me why it is that they suffer or how much more do they need to suffer. I try my best to assure them that I too have my own crosses and I try to carry them because I believe that I am not doing it alone. God is with me. Jesus carried his cross for me and now inspires me to continue doing my part.

I kept encouraging my friend Amie in her battle with cancer, amidst her many questions and musings about her life, her loves, her dreams. One day, she realized the answer to all her questions: 

it is not in rebelling against your situation,
not even in resigning yourself to your lot,
but it is in consenting to face/ confront the challenge or trial before you! 

not rebellion… not resignation… but consent, Yes to Jesus!

It is in embracing the cross and carrying it that I can conquer my pains, my fears, my problems and my doubts.

In the end, Amie said yes to her cross, and this brought her at last to glory.

Face your cross; carry it with Jesus; and trust that he will bring you to your dream.