Today’s Guest Contributor is Erin Pohlmeier.
I wasn’t prepared. As I walked with my father through the sterile hallways of the blood cancer unit, my heart ached to see him suffering from this terrible disease. I felt the waves of anxiety begin to overwhelm me as I contemplated the journey we were embarking on as a family. I couldn’t breath, and in a moment of desperation,
I silently cried out to Jesus, “ Help me!”
I don’t know what I was expecting, but moments later Jesus spoke to my heart and quietly whispered, “Won’t you just walk with me?” In the weeks that followed, which providentially coincided with the beginning of Lent, my life would become a living prayer, a living Stations of the Cross, and I would learn what it meant to walk with Jesus.
I have prayed the Stations of the Cross before, more times than I can count, but during the weeks I spent at the hospital with my dad, I would begin to pray them in a new way. I would pray them specifically through the eyes of Simon of Cyrene. I didn’t pray or meditate on specific words, but simply tried to embrace the cross I had been given, the cross of watching a loved one suffer and struggle to sustain life.
And I just couldn’t stop thinking about Simon.
He’s a mystery to me. We don’t know much about who he was before or after the crucifixion, but what we do know is enough. He helped Jesus carry His Cross on the Via Dolorosa. He quite literally walked with Jesus. Wasn’t this what Jesus so softly whispered to my broken and tired heart? He offered me the invitation to walk with Him through the suffering of another.
Matthew tells us in his Gospel that Simon was pressed into service to help carry the Cross of Jesus. The word “pressed” leads me to think that Simon may not have been prepared for the task given to him but was rather forced to accept a command. We don’t know what Simon thought at that moment, but he obediently came forward and embraced his duty.
He took up the Cross of Jesus.
How many times in our lives are we presented a cross? How many times do we try to flee from the cross instead of obediently accepting the path our Lord has put before us? Simon shows us how to obediently take up the cross. Simon not only walked along beside Jesus but he also likely encouraged Jesus when the weight of the Cross caused our Lord to stumble and fall. He was physically present to support and help Jesus to His feet after those falls.
I had never really thought about Simon in relation to the Cross. I had never before stopped to meditate on how his action of accepting the Cross and walking with Jesus must have transformed him. Simon didn’t just perform an act of charity by assisting Jesus, he partook in an act of mercy. Isn’t this what Christ came to do? He came To teach us love and show us mercy so that we could become transformed and be more like Him.
He came to show us how to carry a cross, so that we can help others to carry theirs.
We all have times when a cross is thrust upon us In that moment we must choose what to do with it. We can run from the cross, run from encountering Jesus through our own sufferings or those of others, or we can can obediently and humbly embrace the cross. We can allow the cross to transform us.
Our lives and the lives of those we love will always include times of deep pain. My dad’s Way of the Cross is not over, and I continue to walk it with him. What I am learning is that when we surrender our pain and invite Jesus into the very depths of our struggle, we give Him the opportunity to redeem that which afflicts us.
In the end, I hope each of us makes the decision to walk with Jesus knowing that, no matter where He leads us, whether it be the highest mountain top, the deepest valley, or directly to the foot of the Cross, He leads us there for our own redemption. Simon reminds us that we only need to trust in Him and embrace His plan.
Erin is a Northern-born, Southern-living professional teacher on an indefinite sabbatical to raise 6 (for now) children and is currently a deacon’s-wife-in-training. She manages life, faith, and her family’s annual goal of hiking 100 miles.