Rectangle 383

Take Up Your Cross

Our Trials are Never Greater Than Our Strength to Bear Them

Do not let ourselves be troubled when we are sometimes beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to the ocean. Sometimes it might seem as if the sea in its fury would overflow and flood the land, but it respects the limits of its shore and its waves break upon the yielding sand. There is no tribulation or temptation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for our destruction but for our salvation. God is faithful, says the Apostle, and will not permit you to be tempted (or afflicted) beyond your strength, but it is necessary for you to be so, since through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of Godin the steps of our Redeemer, who said of Himself, Did not the Christ have to suffer all these things before entering into his glory? If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best interests. You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor. The living image sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art. God wishes to make us the living image of Himself. All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification.

It cannot be denied however that human nature finds the idea of suffering, humiliation, even poverty, almost incompatible with the idea of happiness, so that it is really a miracle of grace when we can be happy in such circumstances. But this miracle always mercifully accompanies the sacrifices of one who seeks to do the will of God in all things, for it is to God’s honor and glory that those who give themselves generously to His service should be content with their lot. It may perhaps be asked how it is possible to reconcile this with the words of Christ: If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. If in this place our divine Master requires His disciples to deny themselves and carry His cross after Him,elsewhere He promises solemnly to give them not only life everlasting but a hundredfold all things they deny themselves to please Him in this life. He further promises to ease the burden of His cross so as to lighten it; for He not only says that His yoke is sweet but adds that His burden is light. Ifthen we do not experience the sweetness of Christ’s yoke nor the lightness of the burden of the cross, it must be because we have not yet made the denial of our will and completely given up our human outlook so as to consider things in the light of faith. This divine light would enable us to give thanks to God in all things as we are taught by St. Paul He requires of us. It would be for us the beginning of that great joy that the Apostle urges us to have always.

This article is taken from a chapter in Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J. and St. Claude de la Colombière, S.J., which is available from TAN Books.

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