143256888549m30 Photo by PercyPants (2015) via Morguefile

Here we are, mid-way through Lent. Ash Wednesday and our Lenten resolve might seem far away at the moment. Failures in our Lenten disciplines or the simple pain from sticking to them might be weighing on us. Now could be a good time for a spiritual gel pack, like those that the marathoners eat mid-race, and scripture is just the kind of portable sustenance we need to get us through the mid-Lent slog.

When We are Chastised This Lent

When we're already feeling weak from our Lenten disciplines, further injuries to our constitution from trying circumstances can feel like a low blow. Is God purposefully sending us more than we can handle to humiliate us and show us how little we are?

On the contrary, He is a loving Father who wants His children to be the best that they can be. And as we all know, spiritual growth can only come through the cross. When Lent starts to feel awfully Lenty, we ought to remember what Paul says to his community in Corinth:

1 Cor. 4:14 “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”

How much stronger and more willing we'll be to accept our trials when we remember that we are truly God's children and He treats us as such.

When We Receive an Answer to Our Prayers

When God surprises us with an answered prayer, instead of putting up our feet and resting in the aftermath of our suffering, we need to follow the example of Peter's mother-in-law who jumped to her feet after being miraculously healed and began to serve Jesus:

Matthew 8: 14-15 “And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him.”

Suffering is exhausting and when we're suddenly relieved of it, it's all-too-easy to retreat back into ourselves and to dwell again on our thoughts, desires, and suddenly the next thing that needs to get sorted out. We bristle when we read about the nine ungrateful lepers. How could they have forgotten to thank God? But a little soul-searching usually reveals our neglect in having acknowledged all the good that God's done in our life. Peter's mother-in-law shows us that the only proper response to God's grace is to come out of ourselves and serve Our Lord the best we can. When God relieves our suffering, the best way that we can say thank you is to turn around and lighten someone else's load.

When We Feel Like We Ought to be Holier Than We Are

When denying ourselves candy brings us to our knees in weakness, our pride and anger over our sinfulness can flare up. Who would think an adult could get so worked up over a box of chocolates? At yet we do, and despair over our littleness can set in. When we feel like a hopeless case, we ought to recall Jesus's words to the Pharisees:

Matthew 9:13 “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So let's persevere with the Word this week and continue to trot on together toward Easter.

Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer