There is a hymn that is probably sang in many churches–Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone? The first stanza makes a somber declaration after the question:
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me. (Thomas Shepherd 1693).
This hymn announces that each of us will experience difficulties as we journey through life. As Christians, there will be times when our faith is tested as we stand at the Crossroads of Faith and Doubt (Jeremiah 6:16). At these crossroads our fortitude will be tested. We will literally be swept along by our emotions or have an opportunity to choose our path. Making the choice to choose the most productive and effective attitude for the long haul will not be easy. When we are betrayed, disrespected, treated unfairly, or harmed in some other manner, there tends to be the natural tendency to react defensively. Consider that the journey is the destination of life and that the choices we make at the crossroads determine the quality of the rest of our lives, including, our spiritual, psychological and spiritual health. The choice encompasses the attitude we will adopt. As a Christian, this is the place you have to call on your faith, the principles of the Word and Jesus’ example. Another hymn, Am I A Soldier of the Cross? declares:
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word. (Issac Watts, 1709).
But what does it look like if one chooses to travel the road of Doubt. Consider the story of Millie. Millie was in an abusive relationship. When she was finally out of the relationship, she vowed never to trust a man again. She felt that all men were dishonest and unworthy. While this stance has self-protective benefits, if Millie closes off her heart, she also chooses to preclude any opportunity for a healthy and satisfying relationship. Consider Jim’s story: Jim grew up as a Black male in the sixties. He experienced the injustices of segregation and the trials of integration. At the crossroads, he determines that all Whites, are untrustworthy and hold opposing racial hatred. Continuing to hold on to this pattern of thought will mean that Jim becomes hate-filled, angry, bitter and propagates his attitude among friends and family. Among other things, he misses the opportunity to enter into beneficial, wholesome and open relationships that are inclusive with those of another race.
One can never know the out-come of being vulnerable and open on the journey of life. Yet not to choose the road of Faith, diminishes the traveler in regard to his/her opportunities, potential and often negatively transforms his/her personality. Even more important, to travel the road of Doubt as a Christian, creates a personal gospel that is removed from the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ is full of hope.
Does it mean that everything always turns out fair or just? No. Does it mean that we are to accept harmful actions at the hands of others? No. Does it mean that we will not feel pain or experience anger, sadness, fear or depression in a hurtful situation? No. It does mean that in choosing the path of Faith, these feelings will subside sooner, that we will grow in wisdom, and strength on the journey and be able to confront in a Spirit directed manner.The struggle of” rising above” at the crossroads can be observed in the hymn, I Am Thine, O Lord.
I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee. (Fanny J. Crosby 1975).
Two practices are necessary for choosing the path of Faith.
1. Prepare for lean times during seasons of plenty. One should develop the habit of building his/her faith through the consistent study, meditation and application of the Word. (Proverbs 30:25). In a time of need, there will be a supply to draw from.
2. Look to Jesus in seasons of pain. Emotions, are not reliable as the basis for decision-making and action; nor is common wisdom. The goal is to rise above the common response and to function at a spiritual level on the Faith road (Romans!2:2).
In essence we must come to know and accept that life has its trial. In this world we will have trouble. No matter, how traumatic the occurrence, according to John 16:33, GOD IS FAITHFUL and has overcome the world!