by Abraham Kuyper
Regarding the cross, Abraham Kuyper has written one of the more memorable devotionals I have read: "Cross Bearing". Here is an excerpt:
"The cross consists not of those things which oppose you, but of those things which oppose your faith. Whatever threatens, weakens, or undermines your faith, or interferes with its activity, is your cross.....
Flesh and blood protest against the cross bearing and resent it. Human sinful nature cannot willingly bear such burdens. It is only by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit that the Christian learns to take up his cross with eagerness, and at last even to glory in it.
But if you should take the attitude: I must be strong to bear this my cross; it will require all the effort I can muster: I shall exert myself and gradually develop the strength to endure. Then, do believe it, then you are in a bad way. For then one of two results will ensue. Either the Lord will cause your self-dependent efforts to fail (which is by far preferable), or He will permit you to develop a sickly strength of your own by means of your own miserable efforts; and that will prove to be poison to your soul.
No, it must not be thus. I must not only admit, but also fully realize, that to bear the cross steadfastly day after day, to bear it when it tears my flesh and heart, to bear it as Jesus would have me bear it, is beyond my strength and endurance. Lord, thy servant cannot! Who among those born in sin is able to perform so gigantic a task?
If this is your sincere confession, if your inner heart thus truly feels its helplessness, then through prayer your “I cannot!” becomes “I can!” For he who feels utterly helpless seeks shelter in the Almighty. And never has anyone sought comfort with Jesus but that he was also given strength to endure. (emphasis mine, cf. Genesis 17:1 and Matthew 28:18)
Then you will not understand your own willingness to bear a cross against which your very nature protests. Your own flesh whispers, “Cast it off!” Friends around you say, “You cannot bear it!” Satan taunts, “You’ll have to give it up!” But you hold your head high and you do not cast it off.
Even though you may be nailed to the cross and men cry out, “If you are free in Christ, come down!” you remain steadfast. You endure it unto death, unto the great; not in your own strength but in the strength of your Lord."
From The Practice of Godliness by Abraham Kuyper