How to guide others to love the cross
There is no life within us if we don't love the cross
We might know we need to love the cross in order to be a true follower of Christ, since “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves [of pleasures of the world] and take up their cross [don’t complain about suffering] and follow me [truly live the Word]” (Matthew 16:24).
But many of us make a big mistake and think we are consoling others and showing them compassion when they are suffering or undergoing challenges, when we are in fact leading them away from loving their crosses and right into a life of seeking and delighting in self-pity instead.
The problem is we have been so indoctrinated with the lie–that the cross (suffering, sickness, problems, loss, challenges, inconveniences, etc.) is bad–we have created horrible habitual sins–sinful habits–of rejecting God’s cross. Tragically, most have been so deceived, we don’t even know we are doing such a thing.
As a result, most simply can’t rejoice in the cross and so often we lead ourselves and others right into finding comfort and peace in self-pity, rejecting our cross…instead of living for God’s perfect will–God’s love, as He gives us what we need (our cross) to growing into a saving faith and then a perfect peace-filled saint.
Rejection of the Cross
The reality is, when we reject the cross, we are actually showing our hatred for the cross…not love, but truly hatred. This is a horrible thing, and the reality most of us live with…since it is the cross that saves.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved [growing into a saving faith] it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
How We Fail to Love
Here is a perfect example of how we fall short of loving others and guiding them correctly .
A sick person sadly states, “Gangrene has developed in my left foot and it needs to be amputated.”
The wrongful consoling person proclaims, “Oh, that is terrible…I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Well, it sounds like the consoling person is being kind…just like any of us would do, but are they really helping the sink person, like Christ would help?
With the above example, we can see a person who is not happy nor rejoicing with their cross since they “sadly” declared their foot needed to be amputated. Now some people can accept reality pretty well and other not so well. But just “accepting” reality isn’t what someone does who truly loves the cross…when we love the cross we wholeheartedly “rejoice” in it.
“[We] rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3).
Now, the Christian’s goal is to bring the person who simply “accepts” reality or the forlorn person into having a true joy with their cross. Yes, we must take that cross and enlighten the person suffering to the wonders and fantastic joy that awaits them in caring their cross with Christ for the salvation of souls.
But before I get started, we need to know we should of course have pity on others who are suffering and bearing crosses in which they need help, but we should never promote others to have self-pity when they are suffering with a blessed cross. There is a difference.
We need to help others with there crosses where/when we can, if needed, and encourage others to rejoice in their cross while accepting God’s will and grace to:
- Learn God’s Lesson–as God always desires to teach us His blessed ways, so we can change and grow in holiness,
- Grow in Humility–as God always wants us to grow more humble (gain greater knowledge of our sinfulness and need of the cross) during our suffering,
- Gain Strength–as God always wants us fill us with strength so we can reject temptation and amend our ways to become perfect from the cross,
- Grow in Knowledge–as God always desire to fill us with greater knowledge of The Way so we may more clearly know what to do and how to live a life of peace on earth and in Heaven,
- Develop Wisdom–as God always seeks to give us greater fear of the Lord so we will truly desire to stop sinning and more clearly know right from wrong so to live the faith.
- Save Souls–as God always desires to use us to send grace to help us and others to amend our ways and atone for our sins, so we can bring us and others to a saving faith and then into perfect sanctity through the cross, like Christ did for us.
So, how do we do that? How do we teach others to love their crosses?
The problem is we fail to do this because:
- we don’t know we need to
- we have bad habits
Our natural reaction to someone complaining or crying over their cross is to say, “I’m sorry.” We need to break that habit. Are we really sorry they have to carry a cross? Did God really make a mistake in allowing that cross to happen? That cross, which God allowed, is what they need to bear to obtain a saving faith and for the salvation of souls. Are we really sorry for God’s will in their life? No…or we shouldn’t be.
People complain to us to find comfort in our pity for them. We become their god’s, who they seek for comfort…not the One who provides true comfort. Our comfort should come from the Lord, and we need to comfort others by guiding them to Jesus’ Sacred Side of Love not to our consoling words of pity.
Sure sometimes there is a place for the word “sorry” but most of the time it must be followed with a clairifyer as to what in fact we are sorry about, so to not mislead someone into the dark…and we are never sorry for the cross.
For example: A woman tells us, “My son just committed suicide.”
Now, we are very sorry for her loss, as losing a son pulls at a parent’s heart (but it shouldn’t cause someone to loose peace, if we are in fact fully accepting God’s will). We are also sorry that her son fell so greatly into the temptation of the evil one, as God never wills us to sin.
It is terribly tragic when any of us sin against our beloved Lord and even more tragic when that sin results in the loss of life. But we are not sorry that she now has this cross that God is allowing her to bear, which is for the good of her soul and can be used for the good of her son’s soul too. To learn more please read the article “How to Console Someone Greaving.”
But please remember we are never sorry for God’s will. It saves!
We fully believe God will take any cross, even one so painful, even if it is given to us by our sin or the sin of another and make it into good, IF we allow Him. If we trust in God, listen to Him to teach us, change and accept His grace, any cross can help save lives!
Lifting Our Values has a prayer card “How to Rejoice in Our Suffering” that we can share with a person carrying a cross that can help us enlighten them to the wonders in the cross so they won’t see the cross as a burden but a delight.
Examples of What to Say
What can we do when God places someone right in front of us who is complaining about their cross. Here are some real examples of complaints or people seeking help and the better response:
01. A man says, “I lost my job two weeks ago and now I can’t pay my bills.”
Most want to jump in and say, “I’m so sorry” but even if the man seems to just be seeking help and not pity please refrain from the word “sorry.” It mostly leads self-pity, not trust.
What would be better is to say, “Wow, God has surely allowed you to bear a big cross. How can I help you carry it (since he seems to be seeking help–and we are called to help others carry their crosses if needed)?” Then we can go on and say, “I can help with some expenses but do you need numbers to different resources that can assist you more greatly with your bills?”
With speaking like this, we just showed care and informed the man that God has allowed him to bear a cross…now his problem can be looked at in a different light. It isn’t just some great stress, but a cross…and most know we are to carry our crosses with Christ. He might not know why or what really becomes from carrying a cross, but at least now he knows it is a real cross.
Of course as one’s conversation develops, we can say what the Spirit leads us to speak to help enlighten him. Then we can tell him we will pray for him (make sure we really do it), and then offer him the prayer card so he can pray and hopefully gain greater trust in God’s will through the blessed cross.
02. A mother grimly tells us, “My child is suffering an unknown illness and dying.”
We are not simple people. When we say, do or think anything most of the time we have several different reasons why we do what we do, most of the time we just don’t realize them. To have a pure intention for any thought, word or deed takes MUCH grace. So, when someone tells us something tragic, there are most likely several reasons for the statement…one of which is probably seeking self-pity for comfort.
Now to guide someone to accept God’s unfathomable peace that He delivers in ANY circumstance, we want to steer someone away from that ever so common deadly desire of self-pity. However, since we still need to show much compassion with someone suffering, especially emotional and physical pain, especially if they are a very frail person (lacking much grace), we need to be very gentle but still just a truthful in the beauty of the cross.
So it would be proper to say, “Oh, how hard it must be to carry such a large cross!” as we go on to say, “I know God has a perfect plan for you and your child, and I will pray for you both that you can follow it and accept it. Also, I will pray that, if it is God’s will, that He heal your son completely.”
God’s will is different with each circumstance. Sometimes, He wants us to carry our cross (like being sick) only for a short while and/or perhaps He is just waiting for us to ask Him to heal us and other times maybe He wants us to stay sick for a while, perhaps He is just waiting for us to desire to stop sinning so to cure us (as crosses can be a consequence of sin–even the illness of a child, as seen in the Bible) and other times perhaps He wishes our sickness to help purify our souls for our death. Oh, God’s will is always what is best for us, but we just don’t know what it is much of the time.
God’s intentions for our good, is also so dynamic…He can seek the benefit of one’s soul through the sickness of another, as he heals the sick person at the same time…as much of the time when someone we love is suffering, God will use that cross to help the one who loves them. Oh, there is no end to the good that comes from the cross…if we want to accept it.
“[After they suffered they went] rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer” (Acts 5:41).