All three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) record Jesus’ words that all of His followers must “carry their cross”. Like it or not, suffering is an essential element of the Christian life. Just as Our Lord carried His Cross, His followers are asked to do the same.
The following verses summarize this teaching in the gospels:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mk 8:34)
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Lk 9:23)
Did you notice Luke’s additional requirement for the Christian? He reminds us that we don’t pick up our crosses every Sunday or only when catastrophe strikes. Instead, we are asked to carry our crosses every day. Part of our job as followers of Christ is to recognize our crosses, even when they are small. Bad weather, annoying coworkers, heavy traffic, illness, anything that is uncomfortable can all be offered up and united with the suffering of Jesus. By doing so, our suffering becomes redemptive.
Do you want to follow Christ? If so, begin by identifying and accepting the crosses in your life. Oh, and one more thing, there are no “days off” for the Christian. We will have some form of suffering every day of our life. Take consolation in the fact that Jesus can grant you peace, even in the midst of suffering. Remember also that those very crosses which made life difficult will be the means by which you will attain eternal happiness.
Sounds like a good deal to me!