E’EN THOUGH IT BE A CROSS!

NEARERMYGOD

Seated in a church, I watched as the earthly remains of my friend’s husband was brought in. I scanned her face, looking past her composed demeanor to her aching heart, sensing the vacuum left there by the loss of her companion of many years. I bowed my head in sorrow, as the Pastor prayed the opening prayer, crying out to the One who created her and joined them together to be one flesh.

The pastor announced the opening song number and we stood to sing that timeless hymn by Sarah F. Adams. As the organ led, the violin accompanied and we sang the song of comfort, the first few lines caught my attention:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Refrain:
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

My heart, heavy with sympathy for my friend, thrummed and resonated with the line “E’en though it be a cross and woke to realization.

Yes, indeed, I thought to myself, its a CROSS that lifts me. Though it seems quite strange and paradoxical too, the crux of the Christian faith and life, is not a crown but a cross that raises!

The cross stands at the heart of the Christian belief, the epitome of its essence and the embodiment of its existence. The cross stands at the crossroads of time, dividing it into two eras – Before and After it. It rings the death knell of man’s efforts to reach God and the morning bells of God’s triumph in reaching out to him. It signals the culmination of mankind’s bondage to sin, sickness & satan and the dawn of liberation to new life, purpose and future for all human beings, eternally!

Its astonishing to note that the symbol of the worst ignominy in the then cultured Roman world of conquest has today become the insignia of the greatest victory on earth and in heaven. The cross it is that signifies the end of man’s alienation from God and the beginning of renewed relationship with Him as His beloved sons and daughters. Therefore, in the words of Apostle Paul, that in spite of the fact that the it is both a stumbling block to the religious and a wonder to the ingenuous, the cross is strength and salvation to all who are called by Him!

The cross is an incongruity, being both a defense and an offense – defense of mankind’s salvation and eternal life and offense again sin & worldliness. It is both the means of God’s grace and mode of God’s judgement – God’s judgement meant that Jesus had to be crucified and because Jesus paid the price of God’s judgement, those who believe in Him become the beneficiaries of God’s grace!

Pastor Timothy Keller, American theologian and apologist, recent tweet rightly points out, “Unless you point to the good news of God’s grace people will not be able to bear the bad news of God’s judgement”. The cross, associated as it is with pain, torture, judgement, punishment, death etc., is actually the means of gain, comfort, absolution, liberation and life to all those that follow the One Who died on it in weakness but rose again in victory and power!

This is then is the message of hope and succor for my friend: Even though she has the cross of loneliness and singleness to bear at this point in her life, yet it is that same cross that is providing and will provide her comfort and solace in that it has provided for and ensured abundant life her loved one. Indeed, this will be her source of strength, enabling her to live her life of triumphant assurance and joy!

Β© Sabina Tagore Immanuel

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