February 26, 2020

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Christians arbitrarily give up things for Lent until it’s over on Easter, which is April 12th. this year.

You often hear the question from fellow Christians, “What are you going to give up for Lent this year?”

I had a good pastor friend (now deceased) who told me once that he always joked with his congregation that he was giving up watermelon for Lent.  Of course, watermelon is not in season during Lent anyway.

Many people give up some type of food for Lent.  So what some people do is to really “pig out” on some foods the day before Lent begins.  That’s jokingly referred to as “Fat Tuesday.”

Traditionally, many people eat a lot of pancakes on Fat Tuesday.  A major food restaurant was offering a stack of free pancakes all over the country yesterday.  My younger sister, Lisa, who lives in Dallas, Texas, went to one of the restaurants and got her free stack of pancakes.  But she said before she got out of the restaurant, her free stack of pancakes cost her over five dollars.

What are you giving up for Lent this year?  It should be something that causes a little pain to do without.  I am giving up two things for Lent this year.  No sweets until Easter and no social media until Easter.  The exception on social media, though, is that I will continue to put my blog posts on social media on Sundays and Wednesdays.  I’ll miss all my friends, but that 30 minutes per day will be used in contplative prayer and fasting.

Why do people give up things for Lent, anyway?  It’s symbolic of the suffering Jesus did for us on the cross to purchase our salvation.  That was surely giving up something – His own life.  And it was painful. The flogging, the hanging on the cross – we can’t possibly comprehend the pain.

Jesus told His followers, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  That statement of course was metaphorical.  We don’t die on a literal cross, but we do die to many things to be Christians.  The Apostle Paul once said, “I die daily.”

Sometimes we can choose our crosses to bear, but sometimes they just come – without our permission. 

The Apostle Paul had a bad physical infirmity. We’re not sure what it was but he called it his thorn in the flesh.  He didn’t like it.  It was painful.  Humans don’t like pain.  So Paul prayed and asked God to deliver him from that pain.  But God said, “No, my grace is sufficient.”

You may have a cross to bear.  Most of us do.  But remember, your suffering is nothing compared to what Jesus went through for us.

Suffering and pain has a way of bringing us closer to Jesus.  Look at Job’s life story.  He asked God why.  Just like we all probably do.  I’ve asked that question many times.  I’ve never gotten an audible answer from God.  But I have learned to accept difficult and painful things in life.

So, give up something significant for Lent this year.  Let it remind you of Christ’s suffering and pain.  It will make you closer to Him.

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley