A friend of mine has this phrase written on a card that she keeps on her refrigerator. It is one of those things that it is wise to be reminded of frequently. In our day comfort and convenience, self preservation and self gratification tend to be our focus. But Jesus has told us to deny self, take up our cross and follow Him. It is perfectly reasonable for Him to expect us to do this, for this is what He did for us. He not only took up His cross, He experienced it fully.
And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. Matthew 27:33-34
Jesus could have taken advantage of the drink that was offered. It was a concoction designed to dull the sense of pain. It was the only bit of mercy He was shown during the whole ordeal. And He refused it. He had a different cup to drink – the cup of the Father’s will. This cup was a cup of pain, a cup of shame, a cup of wrath. And He didn’t shrink from the full experience of drinking this cup.
Often we are found to be seeking ways to rationalize our avoidance of the pain of a cross-ward life. And it goes something like this – If something is difficult or causes us to suffer, it can’t be from God, right? I mean, God is good and He loves us and wants us to be blessed.
Part of the problem is that we have an incomplete idea of what good is. For us, good means happy, healthy, and having everything we need (or want). For God, good means being conformed to the image of Christ. This is ultimate good and it is rarely a pain free process.
You may choose to leave the cross-ward path, however should you forsake the fellowship of His suffering and being conformed to His death, you also forfeit living in the power of a resurrected life.