The greatest trials are reserved for the souls most loved. No servant is greater than his master. The whole life of Christ was a cross. So then, all the life of a true servant of God must be on the cross with Christ. Therefore, be of good heart. Ah! Since the sweet Jesus wishes to do a work of love in your soul, it is no wonder that he permits great temptations and other trials. With these His Majesty intends to purify you as gold in the furnace so that you will be ready for close union with God. You are they who have persevered with me in my trials, and I dispose you for a kingdom, as my Father has disposed for me, that you may eat at my table in my kingdom. This should serve you for your great consolation in Jesus Christ our Lord. So do not be annoyed with these temptations against faith and so on. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 111)
Once this battle is over, you will have great peace, great light, the gift of prayer, and union with God. Then your heart will exalt in God our Savior. Wait on the Lord, act manfully! Above all, I rejoice much that God has taken away all consolation and candy for babies. Abraham, our father in Faith, gave no banquet or grand feast when Isaac, so greatly desired, was born; but he celebrated when he was weaned. Learn the lesson. This darkness of mind that you experience is a clear, evident sign that God wishes to lead you along the way of faith. My just one lives by faith. When you find yourself in this darkness so that you cannot meditate, keep yourself at peace with the loving attention to God in a sacred silence of love, taking in the sweet milk from the breast of the infinite love of God. One loving word is enough to keep a soul in prayer for a long time. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 111)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Since faith is so pleasing to the Lord, He is gracious to give us so many opportunities to show Him our love in the darkness of faith. When we cannot see Him or feel Him and have no consolation in the sense realm at all, then we can know that this is an opportunity to believe and let our faith be exercised. When we begin to understand His ways, then these times no longer surprise us and we can trust Him even when we feel abandoned.
This place of feeling abandoned is the very reality of the cross. Jesus felt such abandonment on the cross, yet He was purposefully in the will of God in that horrible place. The cross is the place of abundant fruitfulness.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
When we look at the cross and begin to understand that He was accomplishing the greatest work of God—the redemption of mankind—while He was in the most painful place devoid of any consolation, the highest level of rejection both from His friends and seemingly from His Father, the highest level of demonic torment, the highest level of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain possible, then we can also understand that this grain going into the ground via the way of the cross is the pathway to the greatest fruitfulness. This principle is not only true in the life of Jesus, but also in our lives as we submit the cross in our own lives, whatever that may look like.
This path of the cross is biblical: “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” -Luke 9:23
And this path is the narrow way that leads to life: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” -Matthew 7:14
For Jesus, this narrow path that was difficult and led to His death meant life for not only Him as He was resurrected, but also, meant life for all who would choose to follow Him. We can be assured as we follow the way of the cross that this is the most efficacious means of fruitfulness for life and can lead to the participation in the work of redemption of Christ effectively producing salvation of souls into His Kingdom.
As the cross is worked into our lives, we can expect a measured amount of suffering given to us out of the love of the Father to allow us to participate in the most glorious work of Christ and also to share in His glory for all eternity. This path of the cross is the highest privilege that we can have in this life. The knowledge of this sharing in His suffering is what has sustained the martyrs of the ages. Christ’s disciples “rejoiced at being counted worthy to suffer for His name.”(Acts 5:41)
The way of faith is the way of the cross. Faith is the substance that hopes when all seems lost. Jesus said it plainly when he said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We can have hope upon hope, even when looking at the most “hopeless” of situations. God always has the last word in every situation no matter what it may look like. In Christ, where there is no love, we can effectively put love and then draw it back out; where there is no hope, we can infuse hope and then draw it back out. In the deepest, greatest voids, God who is the All can fill All.
This post was originally published on UpperGarden.org and is reprinted here with permission.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.