We’ve all told someone at sometime: “Life isn’t fair.”
And then when adversity strikes in our own life, that’s exactly what we seek — fairness. Why is it that we want and seek fairness for ourselves, yet when our children, a friend or family member complains to us that “life isn’t fair” it is easy to see just that. . .that we all must bear more than our fair share sometimes.
I read this week that I must bear my OWN crosses, that they are “shaped” for me. While we can help our friends and loved ones carry their crosses by being supportive, we can’t completely take on someone else’s burdens, sorrows, or pain.
Our crosses were made for us, and just like braces on our teeth, God makes our crosses to shape us and strengthen us. Our crosses are made to straighten out the crooked, and bend back the places that are supposed to be straight. They are designed to help me conform to be “God’s person” — not fairly, not evenly, but as God desires me to be.
Some of us will wear braces, others will wear glasses, and others hearing aids. And just as not everyone has to wear braces for the same length of time, some will suffer longer than others, and yet others will be asked to be of service to those who are suffering — the “doctors and nurses” of life.
For any of us who have worn or wear these aids, they are not only an aid, but a burden. They look and feel different, both from the inside — to those who are wearing them — and from the outside, to those of us that can physically see them. But just as life isn’t fair, each of these aids that burden us also shape us, change us, and make us better in some way, if we accept their help.
We also wish we could lessen the pain those “braces” have in someone else’s life. We wish we could take on the burdens of our friends and that life wouldn’t treat our children and our friends “unfairly.” It hurts to watch those we love suffer and to watch them bear their crosses. We can help by lightening their load, by being there for them, but we can’t take on their burdens. It’s not possible.
And just as someone else’s braces, glasses, or hearing aids won’t work in our lives, someone else’s cross won’t help us to grow as God wants us to grow. Just as braces hurt while they are on, only our teeth can be straightened.
Our cross becomes lighter when we allow God to become our strength, when we are not too proud to ask God (and our friends) to help lighten the load. God will always be there for us, so that when we give up our cross to God, we will become straighter, truer, stronger.
“For whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it” Mark 8:34-9:1.
At times God asks us to be Simon of Cyrene, to help carry someone’s cross, to be the supporting friend. And at other times we are asked to be like Jesus, to bear our cross, to give up our lives for our Father and to suffer just as He did for us.
But just when we think we have our role down . . . well, life will probably change, and we may be put on the other side of the cros because life isn’t fair. Are we ready?
Dear God: Praise be the strength you have given me to bear the “unfairness” of life. Help me to always remember to ask for your grace when life’s burdens, life’s crosses, start to weigh me down. Give strength to my family and friends who are suffering physically and mentally today. Thank you for your comfort and peace in each of our lives. Amen.