Hope for those with unexpected suffering this Lent.
You had a plan for Lent.
Whether you wanted to give up one thing for 40 days, or everything for 5 minutes at a time. Perhaps you planned to break a sinful habit or take up daily spiritual reading. Maybe you started small, or maybe you launched a heroic sacrifice.
And then Lent punched you in the gut.
It happens to me all the time.
Once, my kids repeatedly came down with unexpected illnesses. Another year, our family encountered the tragic loss of a loved one. This year I’m suffering from a bout of depression.
Within a week of diagnosis, my life underwent huge changes. My doctor adjusted my diet, cut out sweets and caffeine, and forbade fasting. My counselor gave me a daily “healthy mind” checklist which includes exercise, reflection, and achieving goals. And on top of that, I’m supposed to find time for rest, hobbies, and keeping tabs on my unpredictable moods.
So I said, “So-long, Lent!”
But what I really meant was, “Hey, Lent, I didn’t see you there.”
Hey Lent, I didn’t see you there. Share on Twitter
Sometimes we get to choose our sacrifices. We select a penance that we think we need in our life. Something balancing the fine line between impossible and wimpy.
Other times, our sacrifice crashes into our life like a bird through the living room window. Chaos ensues, and our own plans float out the open window and disappear before we notice they’re gone.
We may be tempted to feel like a failure. We might think we let God down. But the truth is: Lent isn’t something we can pack up all nice and tidy in a box. It’s not something we can control.
Lent is about growing closer to Jesus through redemptive suffering. Lent is transformative.
I thought my perfect sacrifice would do that for me.
But God knew better.
And in His perfect wisdom, He allowed the troubles of this fallen world to crash down around our heads. Instead of feeling empowered by Lent, we feel surrounded by the storm of life. We’re in danger of capsizing.
But Jesus is here.
He’s walking on the rolling sea of turmoil that is our life right now. He’s calling to us to step out into the storm. To put all our faith in Him. To keep our eyes on Him. To trust Him to do the impossible.
It’s crazy and scary and messy.
But Jesus is here, and we’re in this together. We’re flogged by the burdens of daily life with Him. We’re dragging the heavy cross down the bumpy road with Him. We’re dying to our perfectly planned idea of sacrifice, right up on the cross next to Him.
Jesus is here, and we’re in this together. We’re flogged by the burdens of daily life with Him. Share on Twitter
When Lent punches you in the gut, lean into the pain. You will find Jesus there. He’s calling you through the storm. Walking beside you in your suffering. Sanctifying you through your shared sorrows.
He will transform you. He will stretch you and change you in ways you never imagined.
And you will emerge from this Lent a new person.
I can feel it now. It hurts and it’s exhausting and it’s scary. But it’s a good hurt. It’s a healing kind of tired. It’s a hopeful kind of scary.
The pains are growing pains.
So what if this Lent’s not going according to our plan. So what if it’s not exactly all that we wanted. The crucifixion wasn’t exactly what Jesus wanted, either.
But we know what happens 3 days after the Crucifixion. We know where this Way of the Cross is leading. We know how Lent ends.
It ends with the Resurrection.
With hope and beauty and renewed life. Jesus will raise His hands and calm this storm. He will draw us out of the darkness and into the light. He will reverse this suffering and bring good out of it.
So trust in the the Father’s plan. Step out in faith. Let Him transform you.
He makes all things new.
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