“And he went out carrying his own cross.” (John 19:17.)
THERE is a poem called “The Changed Cross.” It represents a weary onewho thought that her cross was surely heavier than those of others whom she saw about her, and she wished that she might choose another instead of her own. She slept, and in her dream she was led to a place where many crosses lay, crosses of different shapes and sizes. There was a little one most beauteous to behold, set in jewels and gold. “Ah, this I can wear with comfort,” she said. So she took it up, but her weak form shook beneath it. The jewels and the gold were beautiful, but they were far too heavy for her.
Next she saw a lovely cross with fair flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely that was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were piercing thorns which tore her flesh.
At last, as she went on, she came to a plain cross, without jewels, without carvings, with only a few words of love inscribed upon it. This she took up and it proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. And as she looked upon it, bathed in the radiance that fell from Heaven, she recognized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the best of all and lightest for her.
God knows best what cross we need to bear. We do not know how heavy other people’s crosses are. We envy someone who is rich; his is a golden cross set with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it is. Here is another whose life seems very lovely. She bears a cross twined with flowers. If we could try all the other crosses that we think lighter than our own, we would at last find that not one of them suited us so well as our own.—Glimpses through Life’s Windows.
If thou, impatient, dost let slip thy cross,
Thou wilt not find it in this world again;
Nor in another: here and here alone
Is given thee to suffer for God’s sake.
In other worlds we may more perfectly
Love Him and serve Him, praise Him,
Grow nearer and nearer to Him with delight.
But then we shall not any more
Be called to suffer, which is our appointment here.
Canst thou not suffer, then, one hour or two?
If He should call thee from thy cross today,
Saying: “It is finished—that hard cross of thine
From which thou prayest for deliverance,”
Thinkest thou not some passion of regret
Would overcome thee? Thou would’st say,
“So soon? Let me go back and suffer yet awhile
More patiently. I have not yet praised God.”
Whensoe’er it comes, that summons that we look for,
It will seem soon, too soon. Let us take heed in time
That God may now be glorified in us.
—Ugo Bassi’s Sermon in a Hospital.