The Cross and me - 2

William Aikins on July 28, 2020

The cross and me – 2

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (The Lord’s Prayer)

Suffering is inevitable in this life, despite what we would like to believe.  As Job’s friend Eliphaz said, “Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).  Sin, the ungodly world system, Satan or, as someone has said, “our own stupidity” will invariably produce hardship and pain.  It does seem that to be human is to suffer.

              I’m presently going through one of the most painful chapters of my life so far, brought on by persons and circumstances beyond my control.  Along with my own grief, I have had to helplessly watch family members wither under the burden of the same situation.  And I have been at a loss to understand what God’s purpose might be in it all.

I had assumed that God’s discipline might be at work.  After all, doesn’t Hebrews say, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.  For what son is not disciplined by his father” (Heb. 12:7)?  However the ongoing stress of this situation has caused me to question that.  Or at least to pray with David, “Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand (Psalm 39:10).

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a particularly dark day, a little chorus continued to play through my mind:

              Use me.  Use me to do your will on earth.  To do your will on earth.

I shared this later with my spiritual advisor, along with my assumption that God was disciplining me in some way.  My friend paused and then asked me, “Why do you assume that what you are going through is God’s discipline?” He then asked whether, rather than God’s discipline, my present suffering might be an answer to the prayer of the little chorus I’d been hearing.  That was a new thought.

              How can my present suffering, brought on by others, possibly be part of God’s will being accomplished on this planet?  I admit, I don’t know the full answer to that question.  But I do believe it is tied to Galatians 2:20.  “I am crucified with Christ.”  Not Christ was crucified for me, or Christ died in my place, but I am with Him, crucified.  Now I no longer live, but Christ, the Crucified One, lives in me.  The One who was “wounded once upon the cross” at the hands of others, lives in me.  The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 is the One by whose faith I now live.  I understand that Christ suffered, according to the will of God, so that the Father’s will might be done.  In the same way, God can use a wounded, “in Christ” person like me to accomplish his will.

              There is only one way we can live “this life I now live in the body” in our current situations.  We can only live it by trusting in the ever-living One who himself trusted in God, even when he hung upon the cross (Luke 23:46).  He alone can guide us through times like these and use us to do his will on earth.

Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rocks and treacherous shoal;

Chart and compass came from thee:  Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

(Edward Hopper, 1871)