Posted: 18 Mar 2012 10:29 AM PDT
In Jeremiah 31, God seeks once again to build a relationship of trust with the people of Israel. In a season of new beginnings, he once again recommits himself to ensuring that they all come to know him as their Lord and Savior who loves them unconditionally and will partner with them as they walk on their journeys of faith. God knows (based on their past behavior) that this will be a challenge, but our Lord is a God of second chances, and his love for the people of Israel necessitates a spirit of hope rather than one of fear.
The journey of faith and ultimately hope that undergirds the season of Lent is reflected in the pebbled path on which Christians sojourn through the forty days of Lent which culminate in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The path is not smooth; indeed, it is usually challenging and laced with obstacles of one kind or another. How many times have you started your journey and faltered, ending flat on your face? As you lay there prostrate, your only thought may have been to escape while you could, but you chose instead to trust, to invest in hope—to have faith. Therefore, you brush yourself off and recharge your batteries to keep forging ahead on your journey.
The truth is that not many of us are able to survive the rigors of Lent without faltering at least once. Each time we embark on this journey, we are covenanting with God in trust that while the journey may be challenging, it leads to greater spiritual gifts. So often we think of the season of Lent purely as a time of relinquishing and deprivation—a season focused more on giving up than on gaining something. As such, it becomes a challenge that some would rather not face. But there is, in fact, much to be gained. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of the challenge God faced in gaining the trust of the people of Israel. Nevertheless, God was steadfastly committed to establishing a relationship of trust with them. Jeremiah reminds us that God never gives up on us, that God stands firm in his steadfast love for and confidence in us, and certainly, through God's willingness to forgive our sins, that we can be born again with renewed life.
The period of Lent can bring us closer to a relationship of trust with God. The spiritual practice of divorcing ourselves from one or more items of human comfort affords us the opportunity to covenant with God to embrace his desire to walk with us on our journey of faith so that we are never alone. It offers us hope in the face of adversity and despair, and God's assurance that we can face the challenges of the winding and often steep paths of life, dauntingly peppered with the occasional road blocks, if we trust in a partnership with God. This, my friends, is good news that we can embrace.
Susanah Wade, member of Marble Collegiate