Keskiviikko 19.9.2018
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Minulle elämä on Kristus ja kuolema on voitto. Fil. 1:21

Blog: Why carry the cross?

in English 27.6.2017 06:15 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
I exchanged news with a friend through WhatsApp. It turned out that both of us had been living a trying time with uncertainty, anxiety, fatigue, feelings of inadequacy, and an ultimate sense of being shut in without prospects for the future. We agreed that our faith had been heavily tested.
 I once heard a person jokingly say that Laestadians feel that their faith gives them strength to cope with the trials and tribulations that are due to this same faith. When I got over my initial indignation, I had to admit that this person was actually quite right! This very thought is part of Lutheran theology. Living faith includes the need to carry one’s cross – adversity, hardship, distress, suffering, and even the criticism, mockery, and downright hostility of outsiders. But faith gives us the strength to cope with all this. A Finnish hymn (354:3) reminds us beautifully about this: God will bless the cross that He gives and will give us strength to carry it.
 
On the face of it, many trials seem to be due to the choices we have decided to make or ended up making because of our faith. That, if anything, may seem stupid or even crazy to an outsider: ”If you have a stone in your shoe, take it away!” This is the rational way of thinking in this world. It is no good trying to explain that ”I believe this was meant to be” or "it is probably needful and good for me to have this experience”.
 
The idea that a person should deny oneself is nearly incomprehensible to modern people. The whole idea has been reversed, and self-denial is almost considered a sin. Rather, as long as there is no harm done to others, everybody should be allowed to live and act in the way they find good and suitable without interference or limits posed by others. According to the Bible, however, that is not good for people, because it will lead them into perdition – both temporal and eternal. 

So we need the cross. I think the cross is actually a necessary reminder for us to pray, to stay close to God, and ultimately to attain salvation.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’”. (Matt. 16: 24–25.)

The comforting hymn that I mentioned above says that God does not chastise people out of hate but out of love. He chastises most heavily those of his children who are dearest to Him. Why? Our faith is tested in trials and tribulations. Tempered, as it is said later in that hymn. The need to carry a cross makes us humbly approach God and accept his grace.

Text: Juha Hakulinen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

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