Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Crosses That We Bear

The Bible is very clear that God was often very stern as the world began to evolve. The Lord thought that the world had become too wicked in their ways so he instructed Noah to build an Arc to save his family, but destroyed everyone else. He also became angry about the evil that had spread throughout Sodom and Gomorrah, so he destroyed them too. He guided Moses to free the Hebrew slaves and at the same time, destroyed Egypt with plagues and the Red Sea. Although we have an instruction book in the Bible, and life is much better when we abide by the laws and rules God has established, humanity has failed God time and time again.

The Roman Empire dismissed God and still conquered much of the world. God could have once again destroyed the world, brought plagues, annihilated cities or done anything else he thought was justified. But, he didn’t. Instead, God decided to save us all by sending his only son to save this world. I don’t understand why it had to happen like that, but it’s not for us to know exactly why. At the same time, God does not owe us an explanation. The only thing humanity needs to do is be grateful.

The story of Jesus is without a doubt, the most incredible story to ever occur. He was born to a poor couple in a barn with only a few “wise men” realizing his significance. We only know about a few years of his life at all. During the last few years of his life, Jesus gathered a group of disciples, peacefully spread the word of God, healed countless people, performed numerous miracles and taught people to forgive others.

We all see people going through trials and tribulations in life. As my Mother dealt with cancer the last 6 months, it was easy to see just how quick life can change. I have watched her suffer through chemo, radiation, depression, and two surgeries. It’s been emotionally and psychologically draining for our whole family as her circumstances changed sometimes by the hour. But you know what we all feel? Grateful. I cannot thank God enough for the blessings he has given my Mother.

As I walked around the hospital almost every day, I saw patients and family members that I felt certain did not have the optimistic prognosis that Mama had. My heart and my prayers constantly went out for people as I walked around. Our family was bombarded with words of encouragement, emails, phone calls, cards and promises of prayers. I accidentally called a customer one night and hung up when I realized his number was dialing. Mama had just went into her second surgery because her feeding tube had become loose. The man called me back and he knew I was upset because I could barely talk. He prayed for me and my family right then and there and encouraged me to leave everything in the Lord’s hands because God knew the needs of my mother.

Another great friend of mine named Stephon Goode, who went to Carolina with me, came to see Mama at the hospital. Stephon is a great guy and he is also a Pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church. He visited with us for a while, said a prayer with us, gave me a hug and told me to keep in touch. The next day, his brother was in a terrible car accident and was in critical condition. Another reminder that you just never know when a family may have challenges to endure. His brother is rehabilitating and they are optimistic that he will make a full recovery.

This world is plagued with problems. There are wars all over the world, acrimony at every turn, and dissension constantly between people. As I travel across America, I see some rough places. It astonishes me when I go through areas where so many buildings are abandoned and destroyed, trash is all over the streets, and it seems that nobody could care less. If the world has ever been deserving of an intervention by God, it’s now.

But Jesus has saved us all. Jesus gave us the promise that we can obtain salvation. Without him, we would all be doomed. His time here on earth was much like ours. He experienced every type of emotion a person can have. He saw our flaws and how misguided human beings can be. Regardless, he was still committed to saving us. Even as people yelled “Crucify him,” Jesus still wanted to save them. He anguished in the garden in Gethsamane but was still willing to do the will of God no matter what. He was mocked, brutally beaten, and nailed to a cross. A crown of thorns was placed on his head for further ridicule. Then he was stationed high on a hill so the world could watch him die. For all of this, Jesus still said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”. All the power of the universe at his disposal, and yet he suffered through to save us all.

We all have our own crosses to bear. However, I am convinced that no matter how heavy your cross is, someone else has a cross even heavier. On this Easter Sunday, keep in mind that no matter how heavy your cross may feel, it will never be as heavy as the cross Jesus carried. What should be humbling to all of us is that Jesus did not carry a cross for himself, but he carried it so that OUR sins could be forgiven and we could have salvation. For that, we should all be truly grateful.