Yeah, it’s finally March! Time to celebrate!
Lent arrives at a time when we are sick of winter and eagerly anticipate Spring weather. For many years Spring time was difficult for me, it was usually the end of the semester and the school year. I was usually broke, exhausted from being a working student and stressed from studying and completing assignments. Having to throw Lent into the mix was never something I looked forward to. The Lenten season always felt like a time of punishment and it never brought me closer to God. Instead, this period of the liturgical season often left me feeling as if I couldn’t do anything right.
40 days of giving up something that I enjoyed gave me the false belief that I could never please since I wasn’t even able to do something as simple as ceasing from things that put a smile on my face or brought me joy. Following my first degree, I put a stop to practicing Lent for many years; I no longer wanted this season to represent personal misery. Eventually I developed a better understanding and practice of Lent.
God never calls us to be miserable for the sake of misery. God wants our hearts to break over the things that break his heart. What breaks God’s heart? Well… according to the bible things like violence, injustice, abuse, stealing, anything listed in the 10 commandments, poverty, and too many others for me to type at this time.
The misery of Lent is not meant for us to weep over the luxuries that we’ve chosen to give up. Whatever you’ve given up for Lent is meant for you to bless God for being able to have something to give up, and to identify with those in the world who go without the things we can easily put on hold for a mere 40 days. The things we give up are intended to remind us that we need to turn to and depend on God instead of things like Starbucks coffee in order to make us wake up and be happy. Giving up chocolate for the season might be difficult for someone who consumes this item every day, but you know what would be more of a sacrifice for God; buying ethical trade, direct trade, or fair trade chocolate. Not shopping during Lent might be serious for someone who is an habitual shopper, but you know what might make it more meaningful; not purchasing clothing that were made in a sweat shop somewhere over in Asia. Lent is an opportune time to evaluate the deeper meaning of the luxuries we have become attached to.
These are only a few examples of what someone could do to take Lent to a deeper level. Everyone has a different sacrifice that they need to make and it’s not going to look the same for each of us.
I realised the other day that if we can make it through the freezing cold, dark filled, icy days of Winter for 8 months out of the year, then we can make it through a mere 40 days of giving up a luxury so that we can be more aware of the things that break God’s heart. It’s 40 days of asking ourselves, “What material things do I rely on too much to make me happy?”, “What does Christ want me to remember about the things that made him angry, weep, or frustrated?”, “What messages and lessons from the bible am I missing that are causing any distance between myself and God’s will for my life and the world?”.
Let’s not allow Lent to be a time where we spend our energy focusing on the material goods that we are abstaining from for 40 days. Instead, let’s focus on what part of the Gospel and God’s message is missing from our world, our personal life, and our heart.
QUESTION: Do you think there are parts of God’s message that are missing from being an active part of your life?
ACTION: During the rest of Lent take time to read and review the Gospel and get reacquainted with the message that God via Christ has given to us. Prayerfully consider which aspects of the Gospel you are struggling with the most or neglect the most. Ask God to help you with these areas, He is always available and willing to help us on our walk of faith.