Lent & lament: Why bother fasting?

Mar 18, 2022

Lent is an uncomfortable season. By design. Before the joy and light of Easter, Lent reminds us of the grief and darkness that came first. As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s victory over death, we should be reminded of the brokenness that preceded the defeat of our enemy. We should acknowledge the tension.

Let us not rush past the lament in our eagerness to grab the joy on the other side.

This, I think, is the logic behind fasting during Lent. As we attempt to grasp the gravity of Christ’s path to the cross, we deny ourselves something good and basic in our lives. We make a sacrifice that will impact our daily lives so that we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made for us.

And when I read it that way, it makes my past Lenten “sacrifices” of things like chocolate seem rather trite.

But don’t rush past this. I’m not minimizing those small sacrifices. I think anything we do that triggers our brain to draw nearer to Christ is a good thing. I don’t think those small sacrifices are invalid. I also think bigger sacrifices are perfectly appropriate. That is between you and the Lord.

This fact remains: Lenten sacrifices draw us nearer to the heart of the Lord as we reflect on the sacrifice He made for us.

Our greatest joy borne from the greatest sorrow.

Because as my friend Thelma Nienhuis says, “Grief and joy hold hands.” So don’t get me wrong, friend. I’m not asking you not to be joyful. Because joy is a gift God freely gives. But I am asking you not to rush past the grief.

As you prepare for the triumph of Easter, may you humbly consider Lent. May you acknowledge the death that preceded the resurrection, so that you can fully experience the joy of the life He so enthusiastically gives!

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