As I read from Luke, Chapter 9 today, one thing jumped out at me. In verse 23, Jesus says, "And he said to all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me." I have always thought that taking up the cross was related to a particular area of difficulty God may allow a person to experience. I still do think that is true, but today what seemed so real is the idea that taking up the cross is so equivalent to denying oneself that the two cannot be separated. Life is so full of challenges and surprises, twists and turns, unexpected situations, and sometimes looks so much different than one could ever have imagined, that not only can we have a particular cross to bear, such as the onset of a dreaded disease; i. e., cancer or an infliction that causes paralysis, death of a child, or financial devastation because of economic collapse in America, to name a few, but also in addition to that we all face other daily challenges, such as parenting, working in the marketplace, or fulfilling a God-given call to follow Christ in ministry as a vocation. So we may or may not have one distinct cross (infliction if you will) to bear. On the other hand, all of us are called to deny ourselves and take up that up a notch so that we can bear the cross of self-death.
It seems apparent to me that the cross is all about death. It begins with denying myself. Telling myself that I am not entitled though I live in a world where everyone says that I am. It means I understand that God does not owe me anything, yet He has provided everything needful for. . . . It means I deserve nothing, except Hell in my unregenerated state. Hell was not created for mankind; it was created for the devil and his angels.