Q: “Are all sufferings of Christians to be labeled our ‘cross’ that we bear for Christ? What did Jesus mean in Mark 8:34, 35?”
A: Technically, only those sufferings which we believers endure as a direct result of publicly confessing Christ are what we call our “crosses.” This is what Jesus refers to in Mark 8, and it is also what is spoken of in I Peter 4:12-16 and II Corinthians 1:5. Ridicule, verbal abuse, family estrangement, and even physical attacks to the point of death are willingly suffered by the believer when allegiance. to Christ and his Word demands it. Our “cross-bearing” finds its motivation in the real cross that Christ bore for us all. We are not to pick or choose or concoct the various “crosses” in our lives. Rather, God alone is the one to determine them, as we note in Peter’s comment: “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
Christian pastors and teachers have also pointed out, though, that in one sense all evil and suffering that Christians experience in life can rightfully be understood as “crosses.” The reason for this is because the devil, who is behind all evil, has the ultimate goal of using any kind of suffering to try to destroy our faith in Christ. Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to bear any kind of affliction God may allow, trusting in his promise not to give us more than we can bear (I Cor. 10:13), and in his promise of the final glory (Rom. 8:18, II Cor., 4:17).