God can be so…fair at times. Often we accuse Him of being quite unfair–giving good things to evil people, allowing disaster and illness. But other times He does what He’s asked to do in such a fair and even way. You pray for patience, so He lets you practice by raising up infuriating obstacles.
Or He does like He did me Sunday. I preached on the Theology of the Cross, the necessity of taking up your cross and following Jesus, of the sufferings that befall all Christians. And so what happens? Several different people criticized the sermon–not the delivery, but the content, which hurts the most. It hurts because they didn’t get it, because they are rejecting the message. Then my Bible study class was half what it was the Sunday before. After that someone accused me of never helping clean around the church–all through the grapevine, of course. And so it is, this life under the cross, living the life of Jesus, whether we want to or not. This is the cruciform life, the life of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus (1 Pet. 4:13).
It’s fair that these crosses and accusations and disappointments are bright and beautiful on the Sunday I preached that they come to us. God treats the preacher fairly, numbering us with the listeners, numbering us all with the One whom no one knew, who was rejected and accused, forsaken and killed. Not that our present sufferings are worthy of compare. Not that our sand burrs compare even with St. Paul’s thorn (2 Cor. 12:7).