Luke 10:23 is one of the verses we hear so often, see on memes, quote to friends and in talks and we are probably more familiar with it than many other verses:
“If you would be my disciple; take up your cross daily an follow me.”
It is not a consoling verse by any means. No, in fact, I think this verse brings to mind a picture of a lone cross, heavy and stark, rough, meant to tear us and break us, maybe on a lone hill placed there for you. Accepting means isolation and difficulty. All of this is true to life. One purpose of a cross is indeed to break you.
The latest cross my family is carrying has been all of those things and indeed this is the heaviest cross we have carried. I never thought it would be more difficult for me to watch the suffering of my wife than it has been to watch and feel the suffering of my children, but it has. It is even more isolating to watch not only a family member but my partner suffer and suffer so greatly.
To date I have received over 700 contacts from people all over the world, text messages emails, letters, calls, and even donations to help us cover medical expenses. Some are from close friends, some are people who have come to my talks over the years, some are total strangers who know our family story. It is truly an outpouring of Christian community that is overwhelming. There have been many different responses of sympathy but also a lot of questions either explicit or implied. Here are three I’d like to take a stab at addressing:
Finally, many have lamented the amount of tears our family has shed over the years and this is a response I can relate to. The last month my emotions have been nearly out of control when I am alone, and yes once again there have been many tears. I had a difficult time talking about this with my children who have already experienced plenty of heartbreak. They have experienced the empty, stark, crushing cross before.
Let me offer as a consolation the fact that we have shed tears on both sides of the Cross. When you see the cross you have to carry, sometimes you forget that if you approach from the other side you will see that it is not empty. There is a person on that Cross; without Him, this would all be meaningless. I thank God that my first approach to the mystery of the Cross was from the side He hangs on. There were no less tears; in fact, there may have been even more. Those tears came from the realization that Christ knows me, died for me and invited me. Let it be a consolation that the crosses we all carry have someone on the other side. That person is the only one who saves and his message of salvation comes from both sides of the Cross. You cannot accept one without the other. The buckets of tears on either side just cannot compare. Knowing that the cross Jesus died on is the same cross he invites us to carry, we will rush to it, grab it, and struggle to carry wherever he leads.
Another consolation is that we are not alone on either side. For this we need to give thanks. I am incredibly thankful to those who have shown us the very meaning of the communion of the Body of Christ. Four groups of people in particular I want to name:
As Amber continues her treatments we pray that they will be effective. We will not know any progress really for several weeks. Please continue to pray that God gives her a peace that passes all understanding.
Of course, I would not be able to name everyone who has loved us through all this but please be assured of our gratefulness and our prayers. The main reason I started writing this was to thank our community but also to remind people that while the Cross is crushing, it is also saving. While it is the sign of death, the person hanging on the other side rose again. We have shed many tears because of our crosses, but we know the joyful tears of redemption as well and that should be a consoling thought to us all.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
2nd Corinthians 4:6-15
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.