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Inspiration: The cross and hope

I have had a lot of conversations lately with people who are feeling pretty discouraged.

Each person has his or her own frustrations and difficult circumstances that contribute to his or her own discouragement, but there seems to be a common feeling of the blues lately.

I know for many the doldrums caused by this long, ridiculously cold winter have gotten them down. All of us Minnesota transplants have been seriously questioning our judgment when we decided to move to an area where 40 degrees below zero is even possible!

Spring can’t get here fast enough.

It’s not just the cold winter that gets us down. As a pastor I talk with people regularly who are struggling in their careers, or who are unable to find work.

I listen to people who have lots of physical pain and live with nagging long-term diseases.

I meet with people who have been wounded in marriage and have deep brokenness in their families.

I’ve sat with the grieving who have lost a spouse or a child.

So many people are struggling and hurting. And, even those who have not experienced great pain or loss can still be dragged down by the stresses and difficulties of daily life.

How do we find joy and hope in the midst of difficult days? Our circumstances will always affect us, but they do not have to destroy our joy or crush our hope.

The Lenten season falls during a time of the year in which the despair of winter is being overcome by the promise of new life. Lent leads us to the cross, which is God’s victory over evil in the midst of suffering and despair.

The work of Christ on the cross is not a rosy picture. The cross was cruel. It was bloody. Good Friday was a very bleak day.

But, it was also “Good.” It was the best of days because the Son of God laid down his life on our behalf.

The cross is a wonderful paradox. It is both horrific and beautiful. It reveals both the evil of man and the love of God. The cross was an instrument of suffering, but God turned it into his means for salvation and joy.

Christ’s death was a day of despair and death that has become the living hope for sinful and lost people.

I don’t know what is discouraging you these days. I’m sure that you are facing your own circumstances that can sometimes feel overwhelming.

I encourage you to look to the cross in the midst of your difficult days. Gaze upon Christ, God’s suffering servant. He did not come to make our lives easy or to take away all of our pain.

But, he came to suffer alongside us, to die for our sins, and to give us joy and hope no matter what we are facing.