We all have different crosses to bear in life. We all have many differences from our fellow human beings, but one of the things we have in common is that we will all struggle. We will all do battle against the temptation and vices of the devil. Looking around, it might be hard to foresee how we will ever succeed in the face of such difficulty. While so many fail, how do we obtain the grace and fortitude to carry our crosses and make it to heaven?
One of the common reasons people fall away from the Catholic faith is because they believe that if there was a God and He was all-loving, all-powerful, and all-merciful, then why would He allow so much suffering in the world? Why would He allow people to starve in third-world countries? Why would He allow criminals to get away with things? Why would there be so much war and strife in the world? Surely, an all-loving God would not allow these things to continue.
That argument is based on the pretense that God created a world full of dissension and conflict. That’s not true. Everything God made was good. 5 times in the Book of Genesis, the phrase, “God saw that it was good,” is uttered. The planets, the stars, the vegetation, the trees, the animals, and “the man that he had formed” were good. And He ordered it just so. It was Adam and Eve that allowed sin into this world because they were unable to resist the temptation of the devil. They opened the door to the conflict and violence that we see in the world today.
These crosses that we bear are a result of the mistakes of man; our failure to serve God as the good angels do. Because of original sin, we are going to suffer while on earth. But this suffering is no cause for despair and hopelessness. It is a cause for joy! God has given us the tools to find salvation, regardless of our faulted, imperfect natures. These crosses that we bear are an opportunity to share in the suffering of Christ and sanctify our pain and sorrow to grow in character and virtue.
“How do we obtain the grace and fortitude to carry our crosses and make it to heaven?” The answer to the problem is in the question: grace and fortitude. Unsurprisingly, these are things that we obtain through God, prayer, and practice. These are also things we cannot receive if we fail to trust in God, if we quit on Him. We have only to look at Jesus’s example in the Bible to see what we should do in times of difficulty.
“‘Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.’” (John 17:1-2)
“He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39)
“Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)
And in Chapter 6 of Matthew, what prayer does Jesus teach to His disciples? The Lord’s prayer: The Our Father.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Nothing we ever face in life will compare to the cross that Jesus had to bear during His passion and death. And yet, he succeeded. He rejected the temptations of Satan in the desert, He rejected the temptation to give up in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the scourging at the pillar, and when He was crowned with thorns. When your cross becomes too heavy to bear, remember that with God, all things are possible.
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