'Then Jesus said to them, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.' Luke 9:23
'Self denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism (denying yourself certain pleasures). It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self-denial can say is: 'He leads the way, keep close to him'...To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity...which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.'
'Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship...Following Christ means...suffering because we have to suffer...Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship pp 42-46
Bohoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor who was a founding member and part of the Confessing Church who spoke openly against Adolf Hitler and Nazism during the Second World War. He was arrested in April 1943 and then hanged to death on April 9th 1945.