Lent- lamentation in the night.

Reality kicks in….

My Lenten journey this year has been tough, both professionally and personally. I have had a number of challenging Lents, but this ranks high on the scale of difficulty, partly I guess because so many things have been so dispiriting on so many levels.

I suppose we all know that sense of an intersection of various sadnesses and hurts in our lives. Some years are just like this, when we face a bundle of difficulties simultaneously, and it takes everything from us, to be able to navigate them.

Sometimes I think God allows us to be in a cocoon for parts of our lives, where He protects us from noticing the darkness all around, and then when we are ready, He holds open just a corner of the curtain and reveals the horror and darkness of the world. It is a gruesome and overwhelming sight- so much pride and violence, sadness and evil.

And so we lament, we cry from the pit of our stomach, a raw wailing of pain and loss. It is a time of searching and questioning- why is there such evil in the world, so many conflicts, people exploited, corruption and cruelty. Why are so many still in such pain as we begin to come out of the pandemic, weighed down by grief and loss and trauma. At the beginning of the pandemic, we promised to build a brave new world, where we were kinder and focused on what mattered. Where has that vision gone?

In the midst of anguish and lament, again and again I go back to Job’s powerful words ‘ I know that my Redeemer lives’ from Job 19:25

In the midst of personal loss and tragedy, Job was sure of his God, that somehow God was still good, merciful and loving. That is the challenge for all of us. As a human race, God has let us live with the consequences of our actions, and these are so ugly- carnage, destruction, cruelty, darkness. But He never leaves us without hope. There are a myriad of opportunities for redemption through the cross, through us being willing to pray, to grow in our discipleship, to work for good, to choose love. God has equipped us for all we need, and has given us the gift of His spirit to strengthen us and encourage us.

In the desert, we are confronted with the starkness of our lives, and it is ugly, and we weep. But we are also reminded that every day we have a choice, to choose the light or the dark, to despair or to hope, to give up, or to have new resolve to go forward. May God speak to us today, whatever our circumstances, and help us always to choose life and love.

Father God, in the night, things seem so dismal, and we so easily become afraid and despondent. We see the evil in the world and the destruction it causes, and we wail and lament, even more so when we see more clearly our own part in it. Lord Jesus, on the cross, You said ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’. In your mercy, forgive us, as individuals and as a planet. Cleanse us, and give us hearts filled with love and hope, lives transformed to bring your love into this broken and hurting world. We plead with You, for we need You so badly. Holy spirit subdue the darkness in our hearts and do a new thing. Keep us from.the temptation of giving up, and give us courage. After weeping in the night, comes rejoicing in the dawn. May that assurance give us courage for all that lies ahead, Amen.

Lent- a howling in the night!

Scary noises reverberating in the dark.

I have been pondering much in recent days. I think that first steps in the desert is maybe one of the worst, most challenging part of the journey, because it is new and unfamiliar. Being in the desert at night, hearing the rustle of an ibex in the acacia trees, or the sound of hyenas in the distance and feeling vulnerable is a scary experience. That is when your imagination works overtime, and you can fear the worst.

Dealing with new situations generally can be like this. There is a deluge of new facts and information to deal with, and we have to reorient ourselves. It takes a lot of energy and focus. In times of transition in our lives, when things are changing on different fronts simultaneously, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

In the darkness in the desert, the most innocent of sounds can be built up in our imagination. We can become paralysed with fear, pumped full of adrenaline, hyper aroused, waiting for the next noise, working out if it is near or far, and what kind of threat it might pose.

In these times of disorientation and fear, we remember that God is with us. In psalm 3 verses 3 and 5, ( NLT translation) it says;  ‘But You O Lord,  are a Shield around me, you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. ……………                               I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.’

In the night, when we cannot sleep, and our thoughts run riot, we remember that God is our Shield and Protector, that he keeps us safe from the predators of darkness. And in the light of morning, we see things more clearly, our fears diminish, and our trust in our Faithful God is renewed. May we pray.

Gracious God, sometimes we fear the terrors of the night, and we need to be reminded that You shelter us under the protection of your wings, and that You keep us safe. Lord Jesus forgive us that we so quickly become worried and fearful. Help us to remember the words of psalm 91, that you will protect those who trust in You. Help us not to focus on the scary sounds of the night, but on Your faithful promises. In times of change and challenge, may your holy spirit help us to take a breath, to refocus on your love and truth, and then to confidently take the next step in our journey. For Jesus sake, Amen