The cross as a symbol is ambiguous.  Think of what it meant to Muslims facing the Crusaders; to native Americans as they were invaded by cross-bearing Europeans;     or to a black family upon finding a cross burning in their front yard.  St Paul recognized a sense in which the cross is folly, saying:”The message of the cross is folly for those  on the way to ruin but for those of us who are on the road to salvation. It is the power   of God.”  (I Cor. 1:18)

For us the cross is a sacred symbol, reminding us of the central mystery of our faith, our redemption though the death of Jesus on the cross.  The cross signifies a mystery, the mystery of God’s love for us. A love so great he sent his son to save us.  That mystery is compounded by God choosing to effect our salvation through suffering and death.
There is a phrase that speaks of the “scandal of the cross.” How is the cross a scandal, a stumbling bock to faith?  We are not scandalized by the cross “out there” where it adorns our churches or the walls of our houses. It is the cross “”in here”, the trial, the suffering, and the pain that comes into our lives, that becomes a stumbling block.

The problem is it is never easy to recognize any value in suffering.  Something painful is hard enough to accept; seeing it as having some positive value seems too much. An added difficulty is this.  It is almost invariably the case that the trial which are of most value to the soul are those which seem to be doing the least good.

Typically, when afflicted by some trial we feel we would rather suffer almost anything else.  Why did God let this happen to me?  Yet it is precisely that trial that a provident God has permitted for my growth, my sanctification. Someone put it this way: If you choose to shoulder a cross and find it is not heavy, put it down.  You have picked up someone else’s.
The cross reminds us of the essential connection between human suffering and the redemptive suffering of Jesus.  In a mysterious way God chose to link our redemption to suffering.  Uniting our will to God’s will, coming to share God’s own life through grace involves dying to the life of the purely natural human being.  That is not accomplished without suffering.