Joel 2:12-19 ESV
Return to the LORD
12 "Yet even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
and say, "Spare your people, O LORD,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"
The LORD Had Pity
18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
19 The LORD answered and said to his people,"Behold,I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.
Lent began today. Lent is the time of 40 days before Easter. Akin to Jesus' forty days in the desert in (Matthew 4), before He began His public ministry. Another parallel is the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness in (Numbers 14).A time for Christians to ponder our mortality and our need for a savior.
Many people "give up" something for Lent as a way to remind themselves of what sufferings Christ endured for us.
I think I gave up something only once in my life. When I was in 7th grade, I decided I was going to show Jesus how much I loved Him by giving up donuts. All I can remember now is that at the end of the service the very first Sunday after Ash Wednesday, I was beside myself with grief. I had already broken my promise! After church my mom and Mrs. W. did their best to console me. But, I could not/would not be forgiven. I was so sure that I would never be "good enough" for Jesus. Little did I understand that I did not have to give up something to prove my love.
Giving up ought to be a means of learning to discipline ourselves. An example might be to give up a meal, once a day or once a week, so that we have time to devote to prayers or the study of God's Word. Or so that the money we save from eating less may be given to the poor and needy.
Although I understand Lent a tad better than I did when I was in junior high school, I still lack the discipline to give up something. This year, however, my mother has cancer. The doctors have given her X amount of time to live. Thus, I yearn to see my mother spend her final days on Earth with as little pain and strife as possible. Knowing that she is a baptized and believing child of God, I do not fear the death that is sure to come sooner than I expected it might, though I definitely will mourn. However, for her sake, I will "give up" time each day to pray that she will know that her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will pour His grace and mercy on her "for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love."
This Lent it looks like God will be preparing me (and all of my family) to give up our mother and grandmother. Soon she will return to the Lord her God.
(This is going to be hard.)