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Lent and Lament

In the midst of Holy Week, we find ourselves in a unique season of self-isolation and deprivation that coincides with the religious tradition of Lent observed by many Christians. Lent is a time of preparation – a period of giving up or sacrificing something in preparation for something better that is coming. The major difference is that Lent ends on Easter Sunday; and, in the case of the current crisis we’re experiencing, we don’t know what is coming next or when it will end. One way to navigate this period of uncertainty is to turn our attention to what God wants to do in us during this time.

"One way to navigate this period of uncertainty is to turn our attention to what God wants to do in us during this time."

Whenever we enter a season of trials, troubles, or temptations our tendency is to ask “WHY?” Our thoughts often quickly turn to Job in the Old Testament; we can commiserate with his plight and his desperation to understand why God allows such terrible things to happen. Unfortunately, like him, we rarely get the answers we seek.

Theologian, N.T. Wright offers his perspective on this when he says, “…Rationalists want explanations, Romantics want to be given a sigh of relief, but perhaps what we need more than either is to recover the biblical tradition of lament…”.  To lament is to express sorrow, mourning or regret over something – and it is what we experience when we ask “why?” and don’t get an answer. This is the time to begin processing; making space to grieve and to search ourselves and God. Isolation and deprivation give us the opportunity to shift our paradigm. If instead of avoiding or denying it, we lean into it and explore it, new things may emerge or become clearer; we can discover more about ourselves and those we’re in relationship with.

We like to have control and authority over what happens in our lives but, in truth, we have very little. The Coronavirus pandemic is a glaring example. The first couple of weeks of quarantine may have seemed a welcomed break in our routine, but as time goes on, the novelty wears off and is replaced by struggle, anxiety and stress as we lose our sense of autonomy and don’t have an end in sight. We can compare this to what the Israelites might have felt when they were led to the edge of the Jordan River (Joshua 3:2) before crossing into the promised land. They didn’t see how; they didn’t know God’s plan or how long it would take. God chose for His people to wait, watch, and depend on Him to come to their aid.

"As the spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.”

During this time of hardship, temptations are many; we can lose hope and slip into despair, we can become selfish and view others as competitors for limited resources, we can numb the pain with secret sins and self-medicating, we can look for easy answers by shaming and blaming, but none of this will make it or us better. The rest of N.T. Wright’s quote, I feel, holds the answer, “It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain – and to lament instead. As the spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.”

If this is the case, in times of suffering, the Christian response should also be one of charity. In addition to looking inward, we should look outside of ourselves and ask who around us is hurting and how can we help and support them? There are always opportunities, and where we don’t immediately see them, let’s ask God to show them to us and listen for the voice of His Holy Spirit.

God may not always give us answers, but in every trial we face, He promises to be with us. So, let’s lean into this season, see those around us, and know that God is here, He is working, and He will bring beauty from ashes. We may be experiencing the dark night of the soul today, but the resurrection is coming; we have the hope of Easter at the end of Lent.

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Transform a Child's Life Through Sponsorship

Habari (hello), my name is Samuel

  • location

    Kenya

  • 6 yrs. old

    02-20-2015

Entered the program: October 2019

Samuel lives with his parents and six siblings in a three-room sheetmetal house.The outdoor bathroom facility is in bad condition. The family fetches water from the river and boils it for drinking.

Samuel's father is employed as a motorcycle driver earning three dollars per day, which is barely enough for the family's food. Samuel's mother stays at home to care for the children. His parents face a lot of challenges in raising their children and providing for their basic needs.

 

 

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