On the first week of Lent we mourned a Florida community grieving the loss of 17, bombings in Syria killing 100, a teacher’s flu-related death, and an Iranian plane crashing with 65 on board, along with endless other worldwide losses.
We mourned migraines with a traveling spouse, grieving your children’s diagnosis, losing grandparents or great aunts, and relationships brought to the brink, along with endless other personal losses.
Grief seemed to weigh particularly heavy this week.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we heard the morning of Ash Wednesday as crosses were drawn on our foreheads. Sifting through my horrifying newsfeed on top of other losses in my little corner brought to mind my darkest Lent suffered from a hospital amidst therapy and life on hold.
During that Lent, I asked God regularly and frustratingly through gritted teeth, “Why? Why me? Why now at the age of 22?” Authentic prayer is one of the best ways to grieve.
He answered. I saw this movie at a nearby theater and as I watched Him brutally suffer, I was reminded that no one knows more than Jesus that this world isn’t fair. He came into our suffering. He was rejected; He wept; He was misunderstood; He was betrayed by the ones he loved; He was cast out; He was even put to death.
In a world of suffering Lent offers a way back to sacrificial love, to remembering the big picture of the story. It is a call to live the Beatitudes bravely, fiercely, counterintuively.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
- Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:3-10
It’s a time to die to ourselves a bit to remember Christ’s sacrifice for our us. The definition of grace is “the free and unmerited favor of God”. His mercy is undeserved. His love is unearned. Nothing about the cross was fair yet the unfairness of God is is what saves us.
“Can we accept what seems very unfair in life — because we have accepted the unfairness of God that has saved our very lives? – Ann Voskamp
I had the privilege of seeing Jim Caveziel bring down the house at the FOCUS SLS in January as he spoke about the importance of carrying our unfair crosses to truly live.
“There was a lot of pain and suffering before the resurrection. Your path will be no different…God loves each one of us personally and He is there for us even in our darkest moments of despair…Is your life a coincidence? Or is it all just a chance? Some of you may be miserable right now, confused, uncertain of the future, hurting. This is not the time to back off or give in.” -Jim Caviezel
A Lent That Gives
Let’s live a Lent that gives, that carries our crosses and reflects the Beatitudes more fully.
When I returned from picking up my preschooler yesterday, I saw someone had shoveled our entire, corner-lot sidewalk. Rather than spending the girl’s nap times bundling and shoveling in the mid-20’s, I was able to write this.
That kind soul braving the cold to shovel our lot inspired me to pass on the kindness to another in need.
Let’s bless the poor in spirit, the meek, the mourning, the hungry, and the persecuted. Bless those on the outskirts, those neglected or forgotten.
Let’s live a Lent that gives. A lent that offers more snow shoveling, taking dinner to new parents, writing letters to friends, inviting, playing with kids, more Christ.
How are you using this Lent to better live the Beatitudes? What acts of kindness have inspired you to give a little more courageously?