Lent- hope in the wilderness

An early flowering……

Last week I was having a difficult day, and on a walk near a loch, I found this beautiful and early flower. Most of the tree was bare, with only a few buds, but this wee flower made me smile and brought me hope.

Lent is a desert time, when we remember that after Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, that the holy spirit then took him into the desert in Judea to be tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. After the purpose and blessing revealed and experienced in his baptism, Jesus was prepared for his ministry by a time of testing- Luke chapter 4:1-15.

There are times in our lives when we can really relate to that time of testing. Maybe we are despairing about something, or tempted to go down a path we know is wrong for us. Or it could be that we feel alone and vulnerable. Desert times test our love and our resolve.

My prayer for all of us in this period of Lent, is that we learn something that makes us stronger. Traditionally in Lent, we might think of goings to let go, excess chocolate or cakes or take away coffees! We can go deeper, to give up bad habits that take us away from God, too much social media scrolling, late night TV. We can ask God to help us let go of hurts, resentment and bitterness in our hearts.

Having let go, so we create space for God’s holy spirit to work. In the space, we might rededicate ourselves to prayer, or reading a gospel passage each day, or starting a prayer journal. We might commit to listening to praise music every day, or seeking to encourage and bless another person. We pray that somehow, even in the midst of the deepest struggles, God brings transformation to our lives. Then perhaps, there can be a flowering, even in the most unexpected of places.

‘The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands’ Isaiah 35:1

Gracious God, we confess that being in the desert is not something we enjoy. We hear the cry of wild beasts, and we are tempted and distracted and we get scared. Yet You, Lord Jesus, are with us, and you model how to stay close to God, by prayer and meditating on Your Word.

Whatever our struggles are, may we cry to You for help, and wait for your reply. May our eyes be fixed on You. Calm our overthinking and terrified imagining. May we know that You are near Lird Jesus, and find solace in the presence of your holy spirit, still guiding our path. And somewhere in the darkness of suffering, may there be new buds of faith, and flowerings of love, in Jesus name, Amen.