MPGC17- DRAWN TO THE CROSS: SIMON OF CYRENE - WHAT TO DO WHEN TROUBLE IS FORCED UPON YOU?
By Colleen Donahue

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By the time the last trial was over, Jesus had been up all night. The evening had started with his soul agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and rough capture there by the Jewish leadership. Throughout the early hours of the morning he had gone between Annas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod and back to Pilate. He had been flogged and scourged while enduring soul numbing mockery. The crowning touch was the wreath of sharp thorns they had stuck into his tired head. To get one thorn prick while picking a rose is agony enough but to have dozens of thorns pushed into the head is beyond comprehension.

With the trials over and the verdict settled, Jesus started up the Via Dolorosa that would wind through the narrow streets of Jerusalem and up a hill to Golgotha -- "the place of the skulls". Laid on his exhausted, bloody body were the huge and heavy beams he was to die on. He started on this last path and did valiantly but the crushing weight of the beams caused him to fall. The Jews did not want Jesus to die along the way, nor did the soldiers, so something had to be done.

The soldiers looked up into the crowd until their eyes locked upon a strong, black man. Simon of Cyrene was coming into Jerusalem from the country for the Passover. Perhaps in doing so he was fulfilling a life long ambition. Suddenly he was part of a great event in which he had no intention to be part of.

Before he knew what was happening Simon was seized and forced to carry the cross of a bloody, repulsive looking man. (Luke 23:26). Simon is the face of "every man" in the Passion story. He came too close and was swallowed up into the event. Simon (like us) was not prepared to be inconvenienced and forced into a demeaning, humiliating task, especially for a man he didn't know.

This study will resonate with all of us who have ever had trouble forced upon us. Simon's moment in history has left us with the answer to ...

What To Do When Trouble is Forced Upon You
(Drawn to the Cross: Simon of Cyrene)

STARTING NOTES

It is thrilling to me every time the Holy Spirit gives revelation about passages in scripture. All my life I had heard or read those few verses about Simon of Cyrene being forced to carry the Lord's cross and thought little more of it except that it was a fact of history. But this time as I meditated on Simon and the event he had been forced into, the Lord opened my eyes to see beyond this fact of history.

I saw the answer for something in my own life that had been forced upon me and was causing me great agony. The study before you are the insights I received about this event which immediately helped me to carry a cross I did not want. If you are in the middle of carrying a cross that you don't want to be carrying I hope this study will encourage you in your trial.

REMEMBER

Day 1- When an event is thrust upon us (as it was Simon of Cyrene) remember that NOTHING comes our way that hasn't been first sifted through the fingers of God. If we go back to Job we'll see a great example of this.
Job 2:1-10

Day 2- As you can see in the example you just read there is an evil source behind much of the bad, evil and inconvenience hitting us in this life.
Ephesians 6:12

In the New Living Translation this verse is translated like this:
"For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms."

Day 3- In God's conversation with Satan what did God say about his servant Job?
Job 2:3

Day 4- God was so confident of Job's love for him and his character that he was willing to arrange a test with Satan. Yet notice that he put limits on what he would allow Satan to do.
Job 2:4-6

So when an event (a person or circumstance) is thrust upon you not to your liking REMEMBER that NOTHING comes your way that hasn't first been sifted through the fingers of God.

REMIND YOURSELF

Day 5- Remind yourself that trouble will come -- it's a promise.
John 16:33

We don't need to go looking for trouble but when it comes we shouldn't be surprised.
1 Peter 4:12-13

Notice in Isaiah 43:2 that it says "when" three times, not "if".
Isaiah 43:2

Day 6- For a child of God under his authority, God will only allow things to come our way that can be used for our good and his glory.
Romans 8:28

Therefore it's important to keep your perspective at all times.
Job 11:16 / 2 Corinthians 4:17 / Hebrews 12:11

Day 7- Remind yourself that Jesus has already won the victory for you in that situation. Look again at this verse and picture a sandwich in your mind.
John 16:33

The trouble that is promised is sandwiched between two slices of bread. On the top slice is written "In Jesus we have peace". On the bottom slice, "Jesus has overcome".

Whether we see it at the moment or not we already have the victory and this will allow us to walk in peace through the trials we face.

EMBRACE

If God has allowed (not caused) something or someone to come your way then it is for us to embrace it as our cross. We can either embrace the cross thrust upon us or fight against it. If we receive it with acceptance and eventually thanksgiving the Lord will turn the darkness of it into light and it will be a means of grace and glory.

But how do we embrace our cross?

Day 8- Let's go back to Simon of Cyrene. Where does Luke tell us that he was positioned in regards to Jesus?
Luke 23:26

Simon, bent now under the heavy weight of the beams was being forced along a narrow road. Because he followed behind Jesus all he saw were the robes and feet of Jesus. He was no doubt aware of the crowds passing along side but what he saw in focus was Jesus ahead of him.

Day 9- So that is our first clue for how to embrace our cross. We are to "fix our eyes on Jesus" during the trial. He must be our only focus.
Hebrews 12:2a

When we actually embrace or accept our troubles as ones allowed by God for our good then the sting and bitterness drains out of them. We can actually enter into some of the Lord's joy that he prayed for us to have.
John 17:13

It is this joy that sustained Jesus on the cross. It is the same joy that will sustain us.
Hebrews 12:2b

In carrying our troubles behind Jesus it means that we see right through them to God who has allowed them for our good.

Day 10- "Consider Him" (Jesus) who endured great opposition and hatred from sinful man. Why should we consider Him?
Hebrews 12:3

There is great comfort to walk a path when someone has already blazed the trail. Are you being forced in some way? Does someone make your life miserable? Are you being slandered and accused falsely? Is someone trying to "kill" you -- your career maybe? Are you being sorely tempted to give up? Jesus has been through all these things. He was not exempt.
Acts 8:32-33

To consider Jesus is to study Him. Find out how he dealt with all the problems that he faced. What did he say? What did he do?

Day 11- "Do not lose heart".
Hebrews 12:5

Why is this so important? There are good reasons.
1- Brighter days will come.
Psalm 30:5

2- The Lord will protect you through your trials and deliver you from them.
Psalm 34:19-20 / Psalm 50:15

3- The Lord will sustain and restore us.
Psalm 41:3 / Psalm 138:7

4- We will have the comfort of God's presence through the trial.
Isaiah 43:2

Day 12- After we have fixed our eyes on Jesus, considered him, and made a decision to not lose heart, there is one more decision to make. This will be the true test if you are really embracing your cross.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Simon might have said, "What?" Do you mean being forced to carry the cross for Jesus was God's will? We might say, "What? Do you mean being forced to lose my job was God's will? Or, "Is being forced to work with this miserable colleague God's will?

If God has allowed (not caused) it in your life then he is already weaving it into the intricate pattern of your life.

Day 13- By thanking God for your cross (just the way that it is) you embrace it and that allows the sting and bitterness to flow out of it. Instead it brings an expectation and hope of what God will do through the trial.
James 1:2-4

Notice in these verses WHO benefits from your endurance in a trial?

ENDURE

Day 14- After we remember that God has allowed our trial for our good, reminded ourselves that Jesus has won the victory in it, and embraced our cross, the next step is to endure.
Hebrews 12:7

How do we do that?

Day 15- Simon followed Jesus one step at a time carrying the heavy cross. That's what we must do if we are to endure. We must walk as Jesus walked -- one step at a time.
1 John 2:6

When we focus on Jesus alone rather than the trial itself we can live the moment fully with Him. Twenty years of a miserable situation would absolutely swamp us but one day is bearable.
Psalm 16:8

Day 16- If you focus on Jesus it means he is always ahead of you. On the Via Dolorosa (the road through Jerusalem that he walked) this meant that the Lord was out front of Simon exposed to the jeering crowds and carrying the full humiliation of the event. Simon was actually protected in the "shadows" of the Lord from any harm. Learn to walk in the "shadow of the Almighty". To stay within someone's shadow means you need to walk very close to them.
Psalm 91:1-2

Day 17- To endure means that you make every effort ...... to do what?
Hebrews 12:14 / Romans 12:18

If you haven't yet realized it, it's almost always people that are behind the situations causing us hardships and grief. Satan is often behind them, creating his havoc through unsuspecting souls. We can't do anything about what others do and say but we can control our own thoughts, words and actions. This will take great effort and forbearance. While fools are quick to quarrel it will be to your honor to avoid strife.
Proverbs 20:3

Day 18- How is this possible?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 / Ephesians 4:2 / Colossians 3:13

Day 19- Finally, to endure means that you'll take your stand and not give up.
Hebrews 10:35-36, 38-39

To endure with grace means that you'll allow the peace of Christ to rule in your heart.
Colossians 3:15a

PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING

If you've faced something hard and had someone with you in it you'll know that just having someone close to you made it possible to endure.

Day 20- Jesus wants to be with you in your trials. The Apostle Paul gives us this advice.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

This means that you talk with God all the time, about everything. Embracing your cross (your particular person or situation) will take the sting out of it but it will still be hard. Victory in it will only be possible if you live it hand in hand with Jesus. In the midst of your trouble look up and pray, "Father, help me through this situation. You have allowed it and therefore you have plans to use it in my life. I accept (this person or situation) and will walk through it in expectation of what you will do for good. Give me the grace to carry this cross so that you can be glorified."

EPILOG

Day 21- We know so little about Simon of Cyrene but we know that Simon had heard of Jesus because of his sons Rufus and Alexander. Rufus and Alexander were known by the early disciples and the Apostle Mark calls them by name. Perhaps Simon was coming to Jerusalem to check out this Jesus for himself while he fulfilled his lifetime ambition to be at the Passover in person.
Mark 15:21 / Romans 16:13

Day 22- Later in Acts we see a list of godly men among whom is Simon called Niger (the usual name at that time for a man of black skin from Africa).
Acts 13:1

In between we are left with the realization that sometime after being forced into a bad situation, Simon came to his own realization that Jesus was no criminal. It looked like Simon had been forced to carry the cross but in truth God had CHOSEN him. And because Simon had embraced the cross (even though reluctantly at first) God honored him. This one act of charity towards Jesus would be the signature event of this man's life for which we still remember him today.

SUMMARY

When trouble is forced upon you.....

I. REMEMBER -- If it's happening to you then God has allowed it for his good purposes.

II. REMIND YOURSELF --
A. Trouble is a promise in this world- John 16:33
B. God will use it for your good and his glory
C. Trouble will be sandwiched between Jesus' peace in the situation and his victory over the situation (John 16:33)

III. EMBRACE YOUR CROSS (Hebrews 12)
A. Fix your eyes on Jesus
B. Consider Him
C. Do not lose heart
D. Thank God and count it all joy

IV. ENDURE
A. One step at a time
B. "Make every effort to live at peace with all men."
C. Don't give up

V. PRAY AND PRAISE -- Talk it out with God everyday. Choose to be happy.

RREEPP -- These letters can help us keep these things in mind. We are God's REP in this world and Jesus is our REP before the Father.

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