As you travel the long, difficult road that God’s calling you to walk, you must bear a cross. That cross represents the burdens you bear as a follower of Christ. But the way of the cross always leads to resurrection and a new life.
As God leads you to do his will you may wish there were some other way. You may feel fear, a lack of confidence, deep anguish, and a host of other emotions that threaten to stop you in your tracks. Regardless of your feelings, you mustn’t let them cause you to turn away from the path God sets before you.
Jesus understands your fears and your struggle to persevere. He had similar emotions. The night he was arrested, he cried out, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death’ (Matthew 26:38). He wondered if there was some other way and prayed three times for the suffering to be taken away, if possible. But he always ended his prayer, ‘Yet I want your will, not mine’ (Matthew 26:39). Jesus found the grace to accept God’s plan.
You may be overwhelmed as you consider the cross you’ll have to bear on the way to a new life. But during such times of struggle, you can go to Jesus for encouragement and express your deepest emotions. As you cry out for help, you can be confident that you will be given the strength you need to do God’s will rather than your own.
Most men tend to stuff. Often, we trade our grief or sorrow for anger. But in order to release the past into God’s hands, you must fully encounter your grief, and you must be willing to forgive yourself and others for the pain that’s occurred.
This isn’t easy. But we can learn from some people who went before us. Many of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had forgotten the laws of God. During the exile, they hadn’t been taught his laws, so, naturally, they hadn’t practiced them. After rebuilding the city wall and the Temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law. The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing because their lives in no way measured up. But the priests said to them:
‘Today is a sacred day before the Lord your God’Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
The process of releasing the past requires grief and forgiveness. Then you are given the ‘joy of the Lord’ as your strength. This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to set you free from the past, and in doing so, a new way of life.
When Jesus began His public ministry at about thirty years of age, He left the security of home for the uncertainties of life on the road. But during His travels, there was one place he loved to visit: that little house in the village of Bethany where His friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus lived. The three were siblings, and we learn how close Jesus was to them when Lazarus died.
The sisters sent a message to Jesus that Lazarus was sick; but by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was dead, and they were mourning his death. Martha and Mary rushed out to meet Jesus and expressed their frustration that He hadn’t come earlier.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw how sad the sisters and other mourners were, that ‘He was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled.’ He was indignant because He, Jesus, who created life, was dealing with death—a stark contradiction of everything that He is and stands for. Jesus was saddened by Mary and Martha’s grief, and by Lazarus’ suffering. Jesus wept openly for His friend, prompting onlookers to say, ‘See how much he loved him.’
Are you grieving the loss of someone you love? We would consider it our great privilege to share the love and wisdom of Christ with you. Please prayerfully consider joining us at our next New Life Weekend.