cross to bear

A burden or trial one must put up with, as in Alzheimer's is a cross to bear for the whole family, or in a lighter vein, Mowing that huge lawn once a week is Brad's cross to bear: This phrase alludes to the cross carried by Jesus to his crucifixion. Today it may be used either seriously or lightly. [Second half of 1500s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.