“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . . and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11
The greatest things are always hedged about by the hardest things, and we, too, shall find mountains and forests and chariots of iron. Hardship is the price of coronation. Triumphal arches are not woven out of rose blossoms and silken cords, but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships that you are enduring in your life today are given by the Master for the explicit purpose of enabling you to win your crown.
Do not wait for some ideal situation, some romantic difficulty, some far-away emergency; but rise to meet the actual conditions which the Providence of God has placed around you today. Your crown of glory lies embedded in the very heart of these things—those hardships and trials that are pressing you this very hour, week and month of your life. The hardest things are not those that the world knows of. Down in your secret soul unseen and unknown by any but Jesus, there is a little trial that you would not dare to mention that is harder for you to bear than martyrdom. There, beloved, lies your crown. God help you to overcome, and sometime wear it. (Streams in the Desert)
Life is not easy, but it was never intended to be. It is for this very reason that the cross endures as the single defining representation of the Christ-life. My earliest childhood recollections include singing hymns such as “The Old Rugged Cross” and “At Calvary,” and I remember all these years later the remorse I felt that Jesus had to die such a cruel death for my sin. What I understand better now is that the cross stands not only for death; the cross of Christ is the ultimate symbol of restoration and hope. Whether adorning elaborate stained glass in the grandest cathedral or hanging in silver from a delicate chain, the cross stands as a constant reminder of ultimate and imminent victory and hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. Death and Hell cannot conquer us and difficulty and pain will not defeat us. “We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank God for the daily reminder through Scripture of the enormous cost of our hope, and praise God for a constant reminder through the cross that we will overcome.