Praying the Stations of the Cross, Part Four

Continuing our series on praying the stations of the cross – for the entire prayer guide, go to www.soulshepherding.com464956199

Find Comfort at the Cross – 8th Station: Jesus Comforts the Weeping Women

Praise the Lord: I praise you Lord Jesus Christ. By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture:  Luke 23:27-28; Matthew  23:37

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need for Christ:  There is comfort for you in the cross of Christ if you seek it properly.  The women who were weeping as they followed Jesus carrying his cross had to learn this.

These mothers didn’t understand the cross – they were grieving over the injustice and pain Jesus was experiencing when they needed to grieve for themselves and their children.  They were in danger of missing God’s comfort because they were weeping about the wrong thing.

Jesus showed them that they needed to open their hearts to his mercy and forgiveness to begin a new life with him.  Like a mother hen, Jesus opened his wings to gather these women and their children close to his heart.  Jesus shows us that God is our Abba, our dear Papa.

Many people don’t experience the Abba love of God through Jesus and they don’t grieve this.  They’re not feeling sad about what they should feel sad about.  Perhaps they tell themselves to “be strong” or they distract themselves with busyness or another compulsive behavior.  They miss out on God’s comfort and may become depressed because they don’t understand the cross of Christ.

“Weep for yourselves and your children,” Jesus says to the mothers and to us.  We need to cry out for the healing mercy of our Lord and Savior, putting all our trust in him alone, like a little chick coming under its mother’s wings.

Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, even as you were suffering under the weight of your cross you offered comfort to the mothers and children who were weeping.  Your tender compassion is so wonderful.

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times that I have been upset about the wrong things or gone to the wrong places for the comfort I need.  Forgive me that I have not relied on you as the one to comfort me with Abba’s love and to meet all my needs.  I set aside my selfish disappointments and all sources of comfort that are contrary to you.  I pray that in all things I would find refuge under your wings and invite others to join me there, sharing your comfort with those in need.

Reflect:  When you’re hurt, disappointed, or struggling do you let yourself feel sad?  Where do you tend to go for comfort?  Maybe to busyness, food alcohol, unhealthy relationships, television or the computer?  What would it look like for you to seek refuge under the wings of the Lord Jesus, making him the center of your thoughts, desires, and activities?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Consider denying yourself something unholy or unhealthy that you turn to for comfort (or to avoid feeling sad) in order to learn to rely on Christ alone as your source to meet your needs and enable you to overflow with his comfort to others.

Abide in Christ:  Imagine yourself in the situation in which you are tempted to seek false comfort and instead turn your attention to Jesus as you slowly repeat this breath prayer: “Lord Jesus…cover me with your wings.” Psalm 91:4

Trust Jesus to Overcome your Fears – 9th Station: Jesus Falls and Rises Three Times for Peter’s Sake

Praise the Lord: I praise you Lord Jesus Christ.  By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture: Mark 16:66-72

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need for Christ:  If as tradition tells us Jesus fell to the ground under the weight of his cross and rose up again three times perhaps it was especially for Peter who had denied him three times and had not yet reached for heaven’s hand of mercy.  In any case, you and I need to have it reinforced over and over and over: Jesus rose again! Jesus rose again! Jesus rose again!

Of course, in the story of Jesus’ passion we haven’t yet made it to Easter morning but it’s coming!  Let the anticipation build.  Without the resurrection of Christ we cannot endure getting up close and personal with our suffering Lord as he carries his cross and we cannot take up our own cross to follow in his way of sacrificial love for God and others, including those who are enemies.

Let’s recall it again with gratitude: Jesus took the fall for us.  He went where we cannot go and he defeated our dreaded enemies that we could not stand against.  He fell once, twice, three times descending into our sin, our death, and our hell so that we could rise up with him into his holiness, his life and his heaven.

To receive Jesus’ mercy we have to ask for it.  This begins with admitting that we need it!  You and I have to accept that there is a Peter in us who at times has denied (or diminished) the importance of Christ in our lives.  We need to call out to Jesus and reach up for his hand to lift us back upon onto our feet.  And we need to seek the filling of Holy Spirit to empower and embolden us so that we will remain faithful to Christ even in persecution or suffering of any kind.

Pray:  Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Holy One – you are the Only One – no one but you could take on our three dark enemies of sin, death, and hell and be victorious!  You alone are the Resurrection and the Life.

Lord, like Peter I have denied you many times.  Often, I have not even realized it at the time, but looking back I can see that in a particular situation I was afraid to speak up for you before others.  I ought to weep as Peter wept.  O Jesus, I want to be more bold and enthusiastic for you.  By the power of your Holy Spirit living in me, help me to share how wonderful you are with others and do it in a way that is relevant and helpful for them.

Reflect:  In your witness to others have you shied away from opportunities to identify yourself with Christ or speak about him?  Were you afraid or embarrassed?  What would you like to say in those situations?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Identify someone in your life who needs to know the goodness and grace of Christ through you (whether for salvation or encouragement) and then take courage to act and speak as God leads.

Abide in Prayer: Imagine yourself being bold for Christ to share his love even when you’re hesitant or scared to do so then gently breathe in (trusting Christ) and out (sharing Christ) this prayer: “O Jesus… shine through me… O Jesus… speak through me” (Matthew 5:14; Psalm 50:1-2)

Healing for the abused – 10th Station: Jesus is Stripped by the Soldiers

Praise the Lord:  I praise you Lord Jesus Christ.  By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to live.

Read Scripture: Isaiah 53:4, 7; Matthew 26:67; Luke 23:34-36; Mark 15:39

Contemplate in Silence

Consider your Need for Christ: Jesus was used and abused and not only survived, but overcame.  It was the way that Jesus suffered and died, more than the facts, that led the Roman Soldier who helped to crucify him becoming converted (Mark 15:39). This means the world to you, especially if you have been abused.

Some of us have been hit, yelled at, or called bad names by a loved one, teacher or boss.  Others have been sexually violated.  Many have suffered with harsh judgments.  All of us have been mistreated in some way and cried out with the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me.” (Psalm 13:1)

Tragically, survivors of abuse tend to perpetuate the pain of how they were mistreated.  They criticize or devalue themselves and get involved in destructive relationships.  They may wound others in similar ways to how they were wounded, despite their best intentions.  Plagued with guilt and shame, they may hide their memories and pain from others – even their loved ones—and so end up suffering in silent isolation, separated from God’s love deep inside where they need it most.

If you’ve been badly mistreated you need to know that Jesus understands and he heals.  If you feel bad about ways that you’ve hurt other people you need to know that Jesus understands and he forgives.  Dealing with deep hurt or guilt you may not feel God’s love, but through Jesus you can trust in and know the reality that the Father is with you and cares for you even when he seems distant.  You can learn to believe that God is good to you even if at the time you don’t’ see his blessings in the ways you want.

Open your heart to Jesus and the abuse he experienced out of love for you and all people. You are not alone with your pain and guilt.  Your Savior-King invites you to stand in the invisible kingdom of the heavens with him and draw upon the spiritual resources of the Father’s love and power.

The Lord is your refuge in the storm; even in bad circumstances your soul is safe in his care.  Trust in him not only to survive but also to overcome.  By relying on his grace—letting it and not abuse (that you have experienced or will experience) define your identity and well-being – you can not only protect yourself from being wounded you can also share God’s mercy with others, even those who mistreat you.

Like you, all people, your enemies included, need a blessing, not a cursing.  As Jesus showed us, learning to respond to suffering with dignity and grace brings honor to God, joy to your soul, and the gospel to people around you.

Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you were abused to set us free.  You were beaten and bruised to heal us.  You were publically stripped naked and ridiculed to clothe us in the forgiveness and favor of the Father.  You were humiliated to honor us with your Holy Spirit.  You let go of all your rights and the worldly opportunities you could’ve secured for yourself to enable us to embrace true life with you.  How the glory of God shines through you, my Lord!

O Jesus, strengthen me to trust that because of your cross there is healing mercy for how I have been abused – and also if I have abused others in any way.  Forgive me if I’ve been resentful or have acted in anger toward others or myself.  Help me to stand with you in your kingdom, strong and secure in the Father’s mercy and grace, so that if I am mistreated in the future I am not defined by it – not even wounded by it – and am able to forgive and love my enemies as you do.

Reflect:  Have you been abused or mistreated?  Have you abused or mistreated anyone else?  Have you received and shared the forgiveness of Christ for these things?

Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus:  Let go of your anger toward those who have abused you or towards yourself for not stopping it or perpetuating it on others.  Then ask Christ to clothe you in the glorious forgiveness and favor of the Father and to help you share this with others.

Abide in Prayer:  Slowly repeat for yourself or someone the Lord puts on your heart (by inserting his or her name) this breath prayer: “I am clothed in Christ… I have no shame” (Galatians 3:7, Romans 8:1)

 

 

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