When I was a graduate student in Abilene back in the eighties, I heard Rick Atchley tell a story about the great Russian writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Decades ago, Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to a prison camp in Russia.
Inside that camp, Soviet officials were determined to break Solzhenitsyn’s spirit. Part of their effort consisted of assigning him a job of moving a pile of sand from one spot to another. When he had finished, he was to move it back to the original spot. Solzhenitsyn was ordered to fulfill this mindless task day after day.
Working under a hot sun—sweating and toiling— Solzhenitsyn one day reached the breaking point. He simply dropped his shovel; he couldn't do it anymore. He knew the guards were going to beat him, but he could not go on.
It was then that one of the other prisoners, a believer in Christ, went to the sand and drew a cross. Then he rubbed it out with his foot before the soldiers could see it.
In that moment, a flood of hope filled Solzhenitsyn’s soul. Thereafter, every time he felt like the world was going to break him, he just remembered that cross.
The curse of the Fall brings you down. The cross lifts you up.