On Saturday, while I was driving around town, the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee” came on my car stereo. (Note: mute your speakers before clicking the link.) The opening lines fit in really well with what I’ve been learning from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

That second line is amazing! “Even though it be a cross that raiseth me….” What a terrifying thing to say! I don’t think I have the courage to say, “I want to be nearer to you, Lord…even if it means being crucified.” Of course, we as Christians have been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) and are called to die every day to the world and our own sinful desires.

Jesus remained on the cross as an example to us all. He did not give up in the face of unspeakable pain, but remained there to bear our sins. So for our example, we look to Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). If Jesus was willing to suffer for the glory of God, how much more are we called to do so as His creatures.

The song “Embrace the Cross” reminds us that, like Jesus, we see hope in our suffering:

An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus

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