At this time last week, I was preparing to celebrate Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of the season of Lent. As I shared in my previous post, one of the focuses of this season of the Christian calendar is on our sin and our mortality. The Bible clearly teaches that we are all sinners in need of a savior, and that the wages, the consequence, of our sin is death. Death, unfortunately, is a reality from which none of us can escape.
It seems fitting, then, that as I began the first full week of Lent, I had two funerals on back to back days. There is no greater reminder of our own mortality than attending a funeral. There is no stronger proof of the grief and heartache that death can bring than sitting with a family who just lost a loved one.
While death is a part of life as we know it, it is not part of God’s intended order for creation. We were made to enjoy God forever. We were created for eternity. Yet when sin entered the picture, it put an expiration date on each one of us.
I was reminded of something else this week as well. Through the mourning and grief of loved ones, I saw glimpses of joy. Not just joy from shared memories and thoughts of loved ones, although there were plenty of those moments. This was a greater joy. A joy that is grounded in something beyond life and death as we know it.
This is the joy of Lent. While Lent forces us to confront our sinfulness and our mortality, it also points us beyond them. It reminds us that we are sinners in need of a savior, and that God already supplied our savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. The joy of Lent is that beyond death there is life. We can be sure of this because Jesus died and was raised to life again. By his death, he conquered death. By his resurrection, he opened up the way to life eternal. For those who die in Christ will also be raised like him. His resurrection is the sure promise that his death overcame the power of the grave.
When we put our hope in that promise, we can find joy even in the midst of suffering, grief, and loss. The joy of Lent is not the reality of our sinfulness and mortality, but that Jesus Christ took our sinfulness and mortality upon his shoulders and gave us eternal life. Put your trust and hope in him, and that joy will be yours.