The Season of Lent

Hello friends,

We are on day four of our self-isolation here in Papua New Guinea. Our whole community is doing the same thing, waiting out this pandemic. We are right there with you friends. It’s not often that we feel so strongly connected to our friends and family in America, so this experience has been interesting. We order food from our store that is brought to our doors (of course no frozen pizza) and have people picking up garden produce a few times a week. We are finding creative ways to interact with each other: playing board games online, doing scavenger hunts with stuffed animals in windows, eating picnic lunches on our individual porches, etc.

As we pray for God’s miraculous healing and restoration I am continually reminded of Christ.

Twenty-six days ago Alan and I began a devotional study on Lent. It has been affectionately referred to as “Lent for Dummies.” I say “affectionately” because that is basically what it is! We have never really studied Lent before so wanted to learn about it slowly and deliberately. Easter has long been my favorite holiday but it goes by so quickly and I always feel like I have missed something. Our Lent devotional has allowed us to focus on Christ and his suffering and his gift of salvation every day.

We are not great at being faithful with devotionals. The ones I have done in the past have often had a tiny bit of Bible reading and lots of the authors opinion or way too much Bible reading for one sitting and a not very well directed study. This one is very well balanced. It starts with Ash Wednesday and each week has a theme: repentance, humility, suffering, lament, sacrifice, etc.

When we began this study we were very encouraged. It was brief, super saturated with scripture, reminded us to worship God, confess our sins, focus on Christ’s teachings and reflect. The week of suffering came right when things were getting difficult here with the virus. Here are a few quotes from that week:

“How often do we call upon God for miraculous solutions to our suffering, not because we trust him tin our circumstances but because we want out of it?”

“Christ had never experienced sin or separation from God and he bore the entirety of humanity’s sin on the cross. No one has ever suffered like Jesus suffered.”

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:2-3

This week the focus is lament. Which seems appropriate during a time of waiting and confusion.

The beginning of this week I read this:

“Lament is not about getting things off your chest. It’s about casting your anxieties upon God, and trusting him with them… Anyone can complain, and practically everyone does. Christians can lament. They can talk to God about their condition and ask him to change things because they have a relationship with him. To lament is to be utterly honest before a God whom our faith tells us we can trust.”

“Biblical lament affirms that suffering is real and spiritually significant, but not hopeless.”

Yesterday’s devotional said – “Lent is a season of waiting.” The question for that day was – What are you waiting for? A few weeks ago I would have had to think about it, but today I could answer it right away! I am waiting for healing, restoration, “freedom” – I’m waiting to know what tomorrow will bring.

Today it said: “Lament is a sacred space to name our disappointments and sorrows.” The people who mourned for Jesus after his death would soon rejoice by his resurrection.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

I continue to be encouraged by the people around me. I know some are anxious and scared but they are making the best of the situation, of their limitations.

Every day I wonder what will become of this pandemic. It is clear there will be lots of heartache and restoration needed in our communities, governments and economies, but what good will come of it? What perspective? Will we change the way we relate to our families? Will we change the business of our lifestyle? Will we see the blessings of minimizing or simplifying? Could it be possible that this time was part of God’s great plan for us to rethink our priorities and to make changes?

God is good. I am so glad that we are not alone in this.

5 thoughts on “The Season of Lent

  1. Although we dislike the hard times, those are indeed the times we grow the most. God has allowed this pandemic to affect us physically, mentally, spiritually, mentally, financially, socially…worldwide! Absolutely, He’s speaking; are we listening?
    Stay the course. May we all learn & grow, as we wait for deliverance, and know this Mimi’s prayers are always with you.

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words about Lent & lament. We have had 2 sermon messages about Psalms of Lament. Deborah sent your post to our pastor. I especially like these words, “Lament is a sacred place to name disappoints & sorrows”.
    Your mom & I are ‘racing’ to see who finishes power washing first.🤪I guess we’ll do anything to get outside!
    You all are in our prayer. Gayle Young

  3. Your post is greatly appreciated. We love hearing from y’all.
    I’m a friend of your mom, Deborah. She is one terrific lady. God bless you and keep you!
    Rhoda Green

  4. I enjoyed reading this and can’t believe our last two sermons have been on lamenting . Last night in small group with Alan’s wonderful parents, we looked at Psalm 108. We are waiting on the Lord to rescue us and heal this land but mostly to change hearts! He is working all around! We prayed for you all last night and will continue to remember you. God Bless you! Jan

  5. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, especially during these unsettled times. I am in the Bible Study group from AVPC with your sweet mom-in-law. We continue to pray for our missionaries. God bless your service for the Kingdom. Carol Richey

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