In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen suggests: “The great secret of the spiritual life is that everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness can be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity.”  He further notes that it is easy to accept the good things that come into our life, the things we count as blessings.  It is difficult to accept the sinful tendencies that lie within us, to recognize the evil acts we are capable of committing, to accept our brokenness.

That is what we are, blessed and broken.  The great challenge is to relate the two, to see our brokenness as also under our blessings.  Despite our best intentions and our  best efforts, difficulties, pain, even sin come into our lives and we have to face our brokenness.  Unless it is placed under our blessings our brokenness can only be frightening and conducive to depression, even despair.

To place our brokenness under our blessings is certainly not easy, just as it is not easy truly to grasp what Scripture tells us: that it is through suffering that we enter into glory.  Matthew quotes Jesus;  “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.” (Mt. 10: 38)  Luke’s version is stronger, more explicit.    “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross every day  and follow me.”

The cross is fundamental to Christian life.  Christianity is following the crucified Christ,  Of course, it is true that the resurrection is the supreme fact on which our faith rests. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians; “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without substance and so is your faith. (I Cor. 15: 14)  But the resurrection does not cancel out the suffering and death of Jesus.  Christ did not suffer and die that we might not suffer and die. Christ suffered and died that by joining our suffering and death to his we might also rise with him.

How do we cope with the paradox of a suffering and crucified Christ?  How do we bring our brokenness under our blessings? It is only through faith that we can do that. It is only through faith that we are assured there is peace beyond anguish, love beyond fear, life beyond death.