We are on our way to the cross, halfway through the Lenten season. It is fascinating to me (whether you practice it or not), that we find ourselves in this virus crisis smack dab in the middle of Lent. In the midst of countless unknowns, we are waiting, watching, and wondering what comes next. Will we be infected with the virus? How can the economy endure a prolonged shut-down? How will retirement funds survive a dangerously precarious market? How are single parent families managing?
What does Lent have to do with COVID-19?
Lent is a time of spiritual renewal as we prepare ourselves to honor and remember what Christ did for us, and recharge our relationship with Him. While we wait and watch for Easter, there are three basic elements to the practice of Lent: prayer leading to repentance, self-denial (turning from sin), and almsgiving (serving/giving to those in need). Can you think of a better time to focus on repentance, dying to self, and serving others than right now during these days of such uncertainty?
We responsibly distance ourselves from the places and groups of people that might infect us and others. Similarly, during Lent we focus on keeping sin from overtaking us by considering the things that pull us away from God, repenting, and determining to distance ourselves from them. As we get closer to the cross, the things of this world lose their attraction and we can focus on what really matters most: God first instead of self. The best way to deal with self-absorption is by tending to the needs of others. We’ve all heard of neighbors offering to shop for seniors to keep them from harm’s way. Serving others helps us be ready to commemorate the consummate act of self-sacrifice – Jesus’ death on the cross – and to celebrate His victory over sin by being raised from the dead, His ultimate triumph. What better time is there than now to share this message of hope?
In times of unknown, we stop and focus on what we know to be true. We are halfway to the cross, and the redemption that was accomplished there is as relevant today as it was then. This truth has not changed, and what happened on the cross provided for a very certain future – including an eternity in heaven. Through it, we are able to find rest and comfort in our unchanging Savior who promises that no matter what we face on this earth, He is there to carry us through.
Stop and compare the virus crisis with the lessons of Lent. Be blessed. Be ready.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33 (NIV)