February has become a difficult month in our home; it’s a reminder and exclamation point to our reality. In a matter of days, I will mark three years since my daughter’s death. It’s a paradox of emotions that will never make sense or get easier. A constantly shifting and always changing dichotomy centered around love and grief. This year, it seems fitting that Lent should begin just two days before the anniversary of my daughter’s death.
The Beauty of Lent
The purpose of Lent is to pause, remember, and wait. Followers of Jesus remember the events leading up to His death, burial, and resurrection. We take time to fast, pray and give. It’s a beautiful tradition that helps orient our focus on Jesus. The word Lent comes from an Old English word, “lengthen.” Lent coincides with the days getting longer. Since the winter solstice, the light of each day continues to lengthen until summer.
Isaiah 9:2 talks about Jesus by saying, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
We live in a dark world broken by sin. Our own lives are a testament to the depravity of mankind. Illness, evil, and oppression run rampant, with death offering a final blow of darkness. Yet, Jesus has overcome the world. Redemption is in the hands of Christ, and He reigns victorious over death itself. Acknowledging the depth of darkness surrounding sin and death reveals the magnificence of Christ’s light through the resurrection.
The Application of Lent
For forty days leading up to the celebration of Easter, Lent offers us an opportunity to set things aside and fix our eyes on Jesus. Perhaps, like me, you haven’t always observed Lent. I’m still learning and seeing that having intentional spiritual practices is not legalistic but helps me be law-abiding. Any opportunity to worship Christ is an excellent opportunity to take. Lent could be new to you or something you have participated in for most of your life—either way; there are meaningful and purposeful steps we can take to observe the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.
The three traditional applications of Lent are fasting, praying, and giving. Researching the topic will find thousands of different ways people observe these specific spiritual disciplines. But ultimately, the issue’s importance lies within the heart of the matter.
Joel 2:13 says, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
The Fruit of Lent
The practice of Lent allows us time to pause and remember, but it also gives us the resolve to wait. The truth of the resurrection, the longing for Christ’s return, doesn’t mute the pain of this world; instead, it anchors our hope in the light of Jesus amid the darkness. We can wait well for the return of Christ when we remember what He has already completed and what He is still accomplishing today.
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