Jesus told his followers regularly to take up their cross daily and follow him:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25)
The great artist El Greco shows what Jesus means by his striking painting entitled “Christ Clasping the Cross.” As the painting shows, Christ is clasping the cross but his eyes are not downcast, not in agony. Instead, he looks up to heaven calmly and confidently.
This is how we are to carry our crosses as well. We clasp our crosses because Jesus calls us to do so. We know our crosses will cause pain and suffering as they did for our Savior. But as we clasp our crosses our eyes are not downcast, not in agony. We look to heaven in full confidence knowing that God is watching over us and will give us the strength we need to carry whatever cross it may be.
My favorite quote about carrying the cross is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship:
“The cross is laid on every Christian…The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
And when we lay down our crosses at the end of our earthly lives, God will replace them with a crown:
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)