I know that some of you are carrying your cross and you are
very weary. I know that there is GREAT
temptation to lay down your cross and say – “It’s over, I give up!” But I want to encourage you today that there
is a great victory ahead and it is important that you do not quit!
The Via Dolorosa is literally translated “the way of
suffering.” It is the path that Jesus
took up through the city to the hill of Golgotha while carrying His cross.
He didn’t complain.
He didn’t whine. He didn’t blame others. He just focused on His
The Dark Night of the Soul (Click Here)
kind of feels like this: Maybe we
have been beaten up with words by our brothers and sisters, the enemy may be piercing
our minds with doubts and lies and accusation.
We feel completely alone, no one is standing with us and we are
frustrated that we are STILL required to carry out our burden for the sake of
Honest moment: In my Dark Night I told the Lord over and
over and over and over that “It’s not fair!!!”
I hated it. I whined. I complained.
I blamed everyone else. I had a
terrible attitude for several years of my pathway on the Via Dolorosa. I definitely had some “rebellion” in me that
needed to be weeded out.
I remember one Christmas when I complained A LOT – the Lord
rebuked me through a Christmas song! ♫
You’d better watch out! You’d better not
cry! You’d better not pout! I’m telling you why… Santa Claus is coming to
It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah 1:19-20 “
If you are willing and obedient, you will
eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured
by the sword.”
I was obeying the Lord by not quitting and not giving
up. But I had a dreadfully selfish
defiance about the cross He had asked me to bear. Isaiah says that there are two elements to
receiving the “prize” or the best from the land: We must be obedient AND willing!
For a season I was not willing to carry my cross. Yet, the patience and discipline of God brought
me to a place of dying to myself so I could trust Him and say “Not my will but
Yours be done.”
In fact, it was a really good thing that He helped me to
overcome my rebellion, for after that I faced even more difficult circumstances
that required an even deeper death to self to carry my cross.
This is kind of a difficult truth to absorb – but if we are
to carry our crosses daily – it means we must walk the “the way of suffering”
every single day. Even after your season
of testing, you will still carry your cross on the Via Dolorosa daily. One of the purposes of the Dark Night is to
acquaint you with this path. You
actually become friends with this path because you realize that the Via
Dolorosa actually leads to life. It
becomes less painful because when you are dead to yourself and your emotions,
you can embrace suffering because you know God has a plan and your pain has a
In Mel Gibson’s the
of the Christ
, the scene that impacted my life the most was when Jesus was
carrying His cross on the Via Dolorosa and stumbled right in front of His
mother. He looked up at her with blood
streaming down His face. He was
unrecognizable. He was being whipped and
people were shouting terrible things against Him. It was during this most terrible trial of His
human life that He looked at His mother and said, “Look mother, I make all
You see, Jesus knew He was accomplishing His purpose. He knew the path of suffering He was on would
actually bring LIFE to the WHOLE earth!
It is hard for us to believe that a path of such pain and suffering
could be God’s will for us. Everything
within us wants to avoid pain. Every
fiber of our being cries out for self-preservation.
This is exactly how the enemy can deceive some into a ditch
on the path of life. He convinces you of
this lie: God is gracious and loving and
would never require such suffering of His people.
And then there’s this half-truth: Jesus died so I wouldn’t have to.
I love this piece of wisdom from Bob Sorge.
He says we must remember that there are two elements to the
ubstitutionary = Christ took your place on the
2) Identificational = Jesus wants you to join Him in His
When on this very difficult part of the Dark Night you must
resist both lies. The very reason for
our “crucifixion” path is because it leads to more life than you can ever
Why is the Lord asking you to walk this path? Is it to set your family free? Is it to spread the gospel? Is it to prepare you for ministry? Is it to bring redemption to His earth? There IS a reason that you are on the Via
Dolorosa and if you are willing AND obedient – you will make all things new
within your sphere of influence.
The other ditch on the opposite side of the Via Dolorosa is
this lie: God is requiring too much of
me. I cannot handle it.
I admit – it does seem that God gives us more than we can
handle. But His answer is that we’re not
doing it alone. He is carrying the
weight of the cross with us. We must
resist the devil’s attempt to make us feel alone. We must use our faith muscles, which produces
perseverance and ultimately leads to maturity.
This is where we apply the verse:
I can do ALL things through Christ
who strengthens me.
Let me share some practical advice for those of you who are
struggling to submit to the “way of suffering.”
As simple as it sounds one of the key ways to overcome this
trial of wanting to quit is to “take another step.”
Depending on where you are at on the Via Dolorosa this could
mean a variety of different things. It
could be the tiny baby steps. Like you
simply make your mind up to breathe through the pain until noon. And once you pass that mark you breathe until
5PM. Then you breathe until bedtime.
There were other times during the Dark Night that I would
set my mark out a little further. For
instance, just make it through the weekend, or make it until Christmas, or just
make it through the summer. This really
did help me to get through the difficult ‘way of suffering.’
I will never forget the story of Marcus Luttrell, the Navy
. He tells the story of losing his entire squad
in a fire fight in Afghanistan. He had a
broken back, a broken pelvis, broken nose and bit his tongue in half, and he
was paralyzed from the waist down.
As He lay dying against a tree looking at the moon, feeling
sorry for himself He said, “I kept thinking I was still alive they (his fellow
seals) fought and died, but I’m still alive so the mission is still on. So I reached out and grabbed a rock and I
drew a line and I used my elbows and crawled to it. I decided if I died, I died. If I made it to the line… I would draw
another line. I’d fall down a hill and crawl up another one. I did that for seven miles…. I am not going
to stop. It’s not an option. I’m a Navy Seal.
When you go into training they take away everything that you are or ever
were, and then they mold you into what they want you to be.”
Marcus Luttrell DID make it home. He was harbored by an Afghan village and then
returned home to America. He was made
whole and healed and has inspired the entire country with his bravery. But he had to lay down his “victimhood” and
resolve to keep going despite his circumstances. I can’t imagine how his body ever healed
itself after all of that. But as David
Crowder wrote in his song, ♫ Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. ♫
This is the perfect example of what the Via Dolorosa is. It is hard!
It is painful! You want to quit! But
something inside you says it will be worth it.
You are making all things new.
Just keep going. Don’t quit. Draw a line in the sand and when you reach
it, draw another one to reach for. Just
keep taking another step.
You WILL reach your destination!
“Let us not become
weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do
not give up.”