Sometimes our Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving remind us about the suffering and sacrifices we are encouraged to make as disciples of Jesus. While these activities, within this context, are worthwhile motives, we continue to become more open to deeper significance to Lent. Another sense of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is to remind us about how much more we need to rely upon Jesus. These external sacrifices, though difficult, bring challenge to us; we can will ourselves to bear their burdens for 40 days at a time.
However, in the spirit of Jesus 40 days in the desert, our Lent disciplines may remind us about how much more we need to rely upon God's help rather than our own will. Ultimately, the more we rely upon God rather than ourselves, the more we become submissive to the will of God and become more faithful disciples.
One of the many distractions of Lent is to take upon suffering for the sake of suffering. The sense here is that because Jesus suffered, so should we as His disciples. Though there is merit in suffering, especially as the suffering leads us to become more unified with Jesus, suffering for the sake of suffering can be distracting from what the Lord really desires. The will of God is to always move deeper into relationship with Him both in our sorrows and in our joys. And, sometimes we look too hard for the sufferings and are lead away from finding God always.
In other words, we are called to become more aware of God's presence on a regular basis. We are invited by the Lord to live in such a way that we recognize His action in each moment of our lives. We have to be careful, in Lent and always, that we are not looking so hard for suffering and sacrifice that we miss His presence on a regular basis. To be more concrete, we can easily acknowledge that life itself brings about its share of sufferings. We consider local tragedies or school shootings or other world-wide violence and war. We consider serious human health concerns both personally and on a global basis. We consider the lack of religious practice and an overall eroding of traditional values which are at the core of human beings living in relationship with one another. And the list can go on and on… you likely have your own. Sometimes life can be rather rotten.
So, the sufferings are always there and sacrifices are abundant in our lives regularly. And yet, in some obscure Christian sense, we find a need to look for more. Not only during Lent, but throughout the year. Unfortunately, we are invited by God to remember that He desires joy in our lives. The joy we discover by finding His presence in the midst of suffering, and also the joy we find in the blessings He provides daily; even life itself. So, in the midst of this season of Lent, we are called to remember a fullness about God's graces.
While prayer, fasting and almsgiving are essential elements of our practices during this season, we must remember their context and purpose. Not to bring about more difficulties to life, but small reminders to rely more upon God and His abiding presence. Consequently, daily, when we go about our little ways of Lent, we remember these little things add up to a big deal. Our God is always with us and is awaiting our consciousness which recognizes His work in our regular daily activities.BACK TO LIST