Friday, January 21, 2011

The Best Cross

She was the age of my own daughter when she was martyred for her faith. A mere bud, waiting to unfurl, Agnes~the little lamb~ had the bravery to choose God above self.
Saint Agnes was only twelve years old when she died for Christ. First she had refused to worship the Roman God, Minerva. She turned to Jesus, praying aloud to her Lord right in front of the pagan soldiers.

Then, from the crowd, came a voice of compassion: "Marry me, and it will save your life." A young Roman had offered marriage to Agnes as a way to protect her. He had given her a way out of her suffering. Agnes replied, "I belong to my Savior alone."


Can I whisper this prayer in the depths of an aching soul? When winds tear, and the cold is furious and dark, do I scramble for warmth, only wanting a way out? Can I not wait with the Lord one hour? Am I able to "belong to my savior alone?"

What IS suffering? And how exactly do I choose my savior alone?

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. " (Romans 5: 2-5)

The only way to endure suffering is through hope- hope in the beautiful, hope in the right, HOPE IN GOD.

"Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation, that it can laugh while tears are in the eye, sigh and sing all in a breath; it is called 'The rejoicing of hope'(Hebrews 3:6).  "
~ William Gurnall

Here is what Elisabeth Leseur had to say about having an 'apostle's soul.' :

Suffering and renunciation through the burdensomeness, discomforts, and exhaustion of the body, through the darkness or at least the dimness of the mind, and through the interior suffering of spiritual isolation and aridity. Pure and solid faith. To ask, as I have been advised for the grace of 'simplicity in suffering.'

Material concerns, sometimes too heavy for my already burdened body, time wasted, relationships that hold no attraction for me, THE EFFORT TO BE PLEASANT AND SMILE WHEN ALL OF ME LONGS FOR RECOLLECTION  and for only close friends- ALL THIS CONSTITUTES MY HIDDEN CROSS, the best cross, WHICH DOES NOT ELICIT SYMPATHY OR ADMIRATION as illness or misfortune does.

Well, I will carry it 'joyfully' until God changes my obligations. Yes, joyfully in spite of dryness, weariness, the costliness of these efforts, gently united to the heart of Jesus, aided by Mary, my mother, sticking to my usual role of devotions, meditation, and so on, always strict with myself, yet MORE GRACIOUS TO EVERYONE, attentive to remain open, trusting, and abandoned, without narrowness, self-centeredness, or subtlety.

...To make of everything- prayer, suffering, self-denial, and action- an interior offering for others and for God's glory, as well as for those I love.

O my God, give me an adoring soul, an atoning soul, an apostle's soul..."

Early morning splendor~ 6:30 AM,  January 21

"The best we can hope for in this life is a knothole peek at the shining realities ahead. Yet a glimpse is enough. It's enough to convince our hearts that whatever sufferings and sorrows currently assail us aren't worthy of comparison to that which waits over the horizon."
~ Joni Eareckson Tada

photo credit: Maureen Hegarty

We all know people who have been made much meaner and more irritable and more intolerable to live with by suffering: it is not right to say that all suffering perfects. It only perfects one type of person...... the one who accepts the call of God in Christ Jesus.

                                                    ~Oswald Chambers lettuce in January
When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is; we need to recover our lost perspective on life., Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life's dimensions adjusted again.

                                                  ~Warren W. Wiersbe