I am a sinner not worthy to look at the Cross much less speak of it to others. I am but dust and ashes, born of a woman whose stench offended the Lord, a father that shamed the Father, brother to a sister that daily abandons the lord. In my friends I find only wickedness and hateful misery. I am poor in all things, but poorest above all in grace. I do not love as I ought, do not serve as I ought, do not pray as I ought. I am hateful to the Lord.
I pray you never feel this. I feel it daily. Those of you in the medical community are diagnosing me now and prescribing medication. But for me this feeling is a grace. My pride is my great temptation — I’m so desperate to be better than others. I want so much to be known to be superior in my works. And how poor am I! So poor in good works, so inadequate in serving others. I have been given this thorn in the flesh, so that I might not be puffed up.
I also know these thoughts are not true. And it is the Cross itself that shows me they’re not true. However hateful I am to myself, I will never, can never, be hateful to God. That is what the Cross means. What the Cross shows is that sin, no matter how wretched, has been borne away, accounted for, weighed and measured; it has been paid for. And what remains is love, love for that poor small gust of God’s breath lodged in my breast.
Saying clichés like “God loves us” can seem like the bitterest irony. Does God love Brett Broussard, drowned in the recent Louisiana floods? Does God love the two hundred fifty thousand drowned in the tsunami in 2004? Does God love the children that died in agony from radiation poisoning after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or worse, does God love the men that dropped the bombs, or ordered them to be dropped?
The only answer to these questions is the Cross. The proof that God loves us is that he has suffered it all. He suffers the floods, he suffers the tsunami, he suffers the bombs, he suffers the torment that led the men to drop those bombs. He has suffered it all. And he suffers it for us, so that we might know him and love him.
While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.
Thus St. Paul. And so I have hope. And my hope is in the Cross. May it be forever exalted.