The shadow of the cross that Jesus bore and that bore Jesus casts a shadow backward over Lent. Sometimes, our own crosses cast shadows over our lives that seem to block out the light of God completely.
This was once the case for a friend of ours when a routine test revealed a medical problem. Countless prayers later, the surgery was over and the friend and her family awaited the results with guarded optimism. A week later, though, results revealed the problem was more severe than anticipated and would require dozens more treatments and additional surgery.
The physical cross that crashed down on her left her also left her faith dimmed by a spiritual shadow. But there was hope. There is always hope with God.
Her husband could not make the problem disappear. However, he could help her bear the cross of shock, despair, disbelief, grief and anger that she bore. Her children could also help support that cross.
Even though her parent, siblings and their families couldn’t help lift that cross from her shoulder, their prayers and love eased the burden a bit and lighten the shadow. So did the countless prayers of friends.
But it is also true that everyone who prayed and rooted for her paid some sort of price. Added to their own cross was the weight of helplessness at the apparent injustice of something like this happening to such a special wife, mom, daughter, sister, etc. The shadow of each one’s cross was a little darker because the heart-felt prayers did not produce the desired results immediately.
Although this story took place a while ago, the final chapter is far from written. However, the first chapter of that first cross was written nearly 2,000 years ago and it does have happy ending. Jesus no longer bears a cross, but He does help us to bear ours.
The heavy crosses we carry and help others to bear in prayerful faith will become as light as fine ashes blown in the wind and the shadow will vanish in the eternal light.
The way of the cross is love.