In the 19th century, a Belgian priest named Father Damien left the comforts of home behind and moved to the Hawaiian island of Molokai to minister both physically and spiritually to a group of lepers that had been quarantined there. Eventually, Father Damien contracted the disease himself and decided to remain with the other men instead of leave for treatment. Similarly, Jesus willingly left heaven and became a man, entering into our sufferings and literally taking up his cross. Father Damien was simply following the example that Jesus set for us (Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s.v. “St. Damien of Molokai,” last updated October 29, 2017).
“Want to follow Jesus? Join him at the cross. … To be a follower of Christ is to join his journey of abandoning comfort and enduring suffering, a journey that is foolishness in the eyes of the world” (McCracken, Uncomfortable, 46). The only way we can deny ourselves and take up our cross is by remembering that we’re not alone and that Jesus has entered into the discomfort he’s calling us to and has emerged victorious.