“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” Mark 8:34-35
Sometimes people refer to their difficulties as, “their cross to bear”, and assume that they’re bearing it just by going through the trouble. But the cross, to be a cross like our Lord’s, is something you must take up and bear of your own free will. Jesus said about His life, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.” (John 10:18)
You and I don’t choose the trouble that comes to us in various forms, but we do choose how we will deal with it. When we grumble, complain, blame, and get frustrated, angry, or depressed it’s evidence that we are still very much on the throne of our lives. God’s inviting us to embrace suffering like Jesus did, knowing that this identification will lead to knowing Him more intimately, and result in a deeper faith in us. (See Philippians 3:10)
Francois de Fenelon, one of the great spiritual leaders of the 17th century, gave this wisdom to a struggling disciple:
“I am sorry to hear of your troubles, but I am sure you realize that you must carry the cross with Christ in this life. Soon enough there will come a time when you will no longer suffer. You will reign with God and He will wipe away your tears with His own hand. In His presence, pain and sighing will forever flee away.
So while you have the opportunity to experience difficult trials, do not lose the slightest opportunity to embrace the cross. Learn to suffer in humility and in peace. Your deep self-love makes the cross too heavy to bear. Learn to suffer with simplicity and a heart full of love. If you do you will not only be happy in spite of the cross, but because of it. Love is pleased to suffer for the Well-Beloved. The cross which conforms you into His image is a consoling bond of love between you and Him.” (100 Days in the Secret Place; page 21)