Sometimes we can be so focused on the big picture of Jesus, that we miss the little things. The other day I was thinking about the crucifixion. Heavy stuff, I know, but sometimes I think about the cross and what Jesus went through. And like most people, I envision the nails in His hands and feet. I imagine the crown of thorns that was not lightly placed on His head but pressed firmly into the forehead. Then there's the spear at the end that was plunged deep into His side to make sure the deed was completed. Heavy stuff on this Monday morning...but I got to thinking, "What about the splinters in His back?"
It's estimated Jesus hung on that cross for about three hours before He finally gave His life up. They even placed something underneath His feet so that He wouldn't die so quickly and to prolong His suffering. As I contemplated the excruciating pain, anguish and utter despair He must have experienced, I thought about how every time He must have struggled against the nails and pushed from His feet to take a breath, the splinters must have grated His back.
It was a crude cross...not the nicely polished thing we have on the wall of our home. It was course and rough. Like our lives, sometimes it isn't the major events that bring us pain or cause us anxiety and fear, it's the little things. It's the tiny splinters that pierce us as we try to adjust to the big stuff around us. And try as we might, we can't get away from the splinters.
I've got friends going through cancer, the loss of loved ones to suicide, the bittersweet season of empty nests and the uncertainty of job loss and strained finances. For some of these folks that are facing the big things, it's the little things the wear them down. It's the side effects of the cancer meds, the quarrelsome family members who argue over the estate or the tiresome job interviews that don't seem to lead anywhere. The purpose of Christ's suffering was not only for our eternal security but to bring us hope and security during the trials on Earth, too.
I bet I'm like you, thinking God has way too much going on to worry with my little things. Threats of nuclear war, rampant hatred and racism, human trafficking and refugee crises seem way more important and pressing to God in my mind. I sometimes pray about my stuff and then dismiss it, thinking there's no way God would bother and that I shouldn't bother Him. Remember this very important part of the story: As Jesus carried that cross up the hill, a man named Simon came along and was made to carry it for Him part of the way. I imagine Simon's back was splintered, too. The weight and pain was likely too much. Ultimately, Simone of Cyrene had to give that cross back to Christ and let Him finish the work.
I would challenge you today, to remember the splinters. Christ's crucifixion was a complete work, not only for salvation but so that we might have an abundant life. (John 10:10) He took nails in His hands and feet to usher you to heaven but He also strained against the burden of life and took the splinters for you, too.
Matthew 11:28-30 is one of my favorite verses. It says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The verse reveals an image of the hard working oxen who are yoked together, pulling a heavy load. But this morning, I image that instead of the yoke being the piece of tack placed over the back and neck, the yoke is the cross that Christ strained and pushed against for what felt like an eternity. He took the road of long and painful suffering to show us He can walk with us down the long roads of little things that wear us down.
Pray about the little things today. Don't compare your sufferings or situation with that of the entire world. Simon of Cyrene carried that cross for just a little while and eventually handed it off to the One who could bear it all for Him and for all of us.