What Will NOT Go Away
Some things cannot be avoided or changed. Heartache is one of them. No matter how much we would like relief from the pain, it is there. Like an unrelenting headache, it goes where we go, no matter the occasion.
We can try to dull the pain or distract ourselves from it but eventually, it crowds its way to the front of our mind through the anguish in our heart.
Heartache throws off our perspective. We could have much to celebrate, even great blessings to count, but the ache in our heart threatens to overshadow it all. It really doesn’t matter what is the cause of our heartache. The same grief is felt from a variety of sources.
- work issues
- mental illness
- unmet expectations
- adult children
- physical or emotional neglect
- toxic relationship
If we can do nothing about what causes our grief, then what CAN we do?
What Jesus Experienced
I began to think about what Jesus had in life causing Him heartache. Even the Son of Man was not immune to this emotion.
Reading in Mark 9:38-50 ESV , I considered that He had to deal with his own disciples and the need to correct them often. His best people had significant ongoing issues that needed addressing. Those who should be way ahead in the kingdom mindset still acted like children at times more than adult disciples.
Where was their progress?
To be the Son of God, pouring into them powerfully, yet needing to continually correct their misguided thoughts or actions had to bring grief.
Then to launch into a lesson of the devastation from causing others to sin and the reality of hell shows the weight of what Jesus had on His mind. He dealt with life and death issues constantly, in many areas such as emotionally, spiritually and physically. Christ wasn’t called the “man of sorrows” for nothing.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3 ESV
To love as deeply as He did and know the horrors of hell awaiting those who would reject Him had to be painful. On top of this, add to the burden that He knew every detail coming His way as it pertained to Calvary! The whole time He was serving and saving others, He was inching closer to personal agony.
Shocking as it is to consider, even the Son of God lived with heartache.
The reality of earthly grief is universal, even to Jesus. He even went so far as to prepare our mindset for life in this world.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:34 ESV
It is an unavoidable part of life- our cross to bear. EVERYONE has some aspect of life that causes them pain in one form or another.
So now what?
How We Can Cope With Our “Cross”
Recently, as I was battling one of my “crosses”, I felt like I was sinking into a pit. My heartache was getting the best of me because I was losing perspective. I could tell so because my emotions were getting out of hand. Seeing where this was leading made me take a real hard look at myself to identify the problem. I have come far enough in my faith to know that the solution isn’t rooted in fixing the outward issue (because most likely I have no control over that anyway) but adjusting how I process or handle it.
There is a way in which we can carry our cross so that it is most helpful for our ability to bear the burden long term. The thing about carrying a cross is that longevity matters. None of us knows if our cross will be lifted this side of heaven so we need to be able to persevere long term if necessary.
After seeking the Lord for some insight on what needed to change, this is what I learned.6 Ways We Can Carry Our Cross #heartache #crosslife Click To Tweet
6 Ways To Take Up Our Cross
- Recognize my cross. God taught me that identifying my cross was helpful. Understanding what I was going through and how it related to my faith and God’s Word was key for perspective. Going through emotional lows willy-nilly was not conducive to strength or perseverance. Instead of focusing on the emotions at play, I needed to get down to the root of the issue. A “cross” is more of a long-term reality than a short-term problem. “(Fill in the blank) is my cross to bear.”
- Evaluate my cross. Next, I needed to consider my cross in the context of how it could be worse. After identifying the heartache, I could then recognize the extent of it. I may be dealing with __________ but at least it isn’t _______ or ________. Once I evaluated my cross, I began to feel the relief that my heartache wasn’t in other areas more dear to me. Reminding myself of how temporal pain is on earth helps me long for heaven as well.
- Be grateful for my cross. After recognizing how much worse my heartache could be, compared to what it actually was, I was able to feel grateful for this burden. I could envision a room full of burdens to bear and my cross became the one I was more apt to choose. Knowing that we all have issues that grieve us, I no longer desire a perfect life that is cross-free because I know that isn’t really a practical reality. Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble but to take heart because He overcame the world. Therefore, avoiding every ounce of trouble isn’t the goal but overcoming it is!
- Accept my cross. Having gained some perspective about my “cross”, I was able to accept it more readily. The hardest part is when we continue to resent our crosses, demanding that they are removed from our lives. Crosses may not make sense to us, they may be completely unfair, but they are what they are- ours nonetheless. So the sooner we can yield to them, adjusting our stride so to speak as we carry on with life, the easier we will have it in the long run. If we cannot live without the heartache, then we must learn how to live with it.
- Ask for help with my cross. Another aspect that made a big change in my ability to bear up under the heartache was asking for prayer support. Bringing in a handful of mature friends who I knew would pray for me was necessary and it yielded much fruit.
- Compartmentalize my cross. With new found insight into carrying my cross, I was able to contain the emotional backlash from my heartache. No longer was it consuming me but rather, I was able to compartmentalize it. Instead of focusing on the burden, I began to recognize the good I had in other areas of my life and be grateful for that. This shift in balance was powerful.
I may not be able to unload my cross but I can sure learn to carry it better. Learning how to process the pain in life is key to overcoming rather than feeling overwhelmed. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves (what we want), pick up that cross and follow His example. He wasn’t complaining the whole way, making His suffering all about Him. He willingly yielded to what God asked of Him knowing that for the joy set before Him, He could endure.
And so can we, my friends. Keep following hard!