“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” – Pope Francis
Josiah and I were chatting the other day and we were discussing how generally people aren’t comfortable with the idea of suffering. This may seem like a rather simple, trite observation, but bear with me here. What is the pivotal point of our faith, as Christians? That Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself willingly and conquered death, so that we could be saved from condemnation. He endured unimaginable suffering and strife to this end. So, shouldn’t we have much more appreciation for this concept? Shouldn’t we see every struggle as an opportunity to be drawn closer to our Saviour? I mean, we’re even challenged to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”(James 1:2). I’ve been so frustratingly thankful for this verse because in my sinful humanness I want nothing to do with it, but the Jesus in me is drawing me deeper.
This is the first year that I have made a point to focus more intentionally on the Lenten season. And I have been struck by the necessity for struggle…not aimless or without meaning, but the sense of giving all of our experiences to the Lord as an offering. We can never come close to understanding His loving sacrifice for us and yet the act of going without (fasting in whatever form) or enduring any measure of trial with the right focus (prayer and communion with Him) can bring beauty to the ashes of our lives and help us celebrate new life in Him even more.
“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
I realized that for the last two years the end of February/beginning of March has been a particularly trying time for our family. Sickness upon sickness, house issues, vehicle issues, the list goes on, and my mindset has not often been one of “counting it all joy”. When the Lord reminded me that both of these “Warren plagues” fell during the season of Lent, it was like a loving slap in the face… Fasting from gluten and refined sugar is one thing, but am I willing to bring my exhausted, grumpy, aching self to Jesus and present it as a messy, broken, small, yet important offering at His feet? I hope so.
Grace and Peace, dear ones,