Crosses come and go. There are times that are particularly intense, crucible-style, and times that are more peaceful. Crosses can be physical or moral, can be personal or suffering with and for others. Regardless of how they come, crosses always seem to catch me off guard. My initial reaction is to resist, to deny the cross, to distance myself from it.
Little by little, as God seems to insist that this cross is for me, this resistance transitions to an acceptance. As we experience this, we can end up claiming the cross, owning it. Claiming the cross has immense spiritual benefit. Suffering is a privileged place from which we can see into Christ's heart and what he suffered in his passion, what he suffered to save us. He opens his heart to us through suffering. Seeing his love we are motivated to love in our turn. Psalm 126:5 says "those who sow in tears shall reap with cries of joy."
We find that this relationship changes everything. In John 10:10 Jesus tells us "I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." This is the divine pedagogy. It is a way of re-framing problems in faith and discovering unexpected solutions in the Lord.
John 3:14 says "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up..." So must each of us be lifted up. So Christ saved us and so he continues, through us, to realize his work of salvation. "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32) The cross is to bring us to new heights of spiritual life.
Lift us up, Lord. Challenge us with the cross. Give us the courage to bear it, to find you in it, and to grow always in our knowledge of and love for you.