Q. My question is regarding crosses we have to bear. I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding her struggle with anxiety. She has prayed for god to remove the cause of her anxiety and constantly seeks prayer for this. When she still struggles with the anxiety she feels that it is a cross she has to bear and believes that we all have a cross to bear. I don’t agree with her, I don’t believe that God gives us crosses to bear, he came to free us from fear and anxiety and to make our burdens light. She said God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh and didn’t take it away. Could you shed some light on this matter and is it scriptural?
A. In Matt. 16:24 Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The phrase “taking up his cross” means putting Earthly desires of the flesh to death to follow the plan the Lord has for our lives, just as Jesus put any personal desires of His aside to follow God’s plan for His life. It has nothing to do with suffering for Christ.
The so-called thorn in Paul’s flesh refers to the periodic beatings he had to endure in spreading the Gospel. In effect, God told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll heal you each time. My power is made perfect in your weakness” There’s absolutely no evidence to support the belief that God kept Paul sick while giving him the power to heal others.
No where in Scripture is God shown giving His children afflictions they can’t escape by turning to Him. In fact the opposite is true. Isaiah 53:4-5 says that He took up our infirmities (sickness), carried our sorrows (pain and affliction), and by His wounds we are healed.
Your friend is a victim of the evil that pervades this world, not a loving God who gave his life so that she could be free of such things. Her belief that God is somehow responsible for this, no matter how well intentioned, is counter productive and could actually be blocking her prayers for healing. (James 1:6-7)