With the quarantines and Stay-at-Home orders around the world, people are unintentionally sacrificing personal freedom for Lent.
For those who did not grow up in a faith tradition that “celebrates” Lent, these 46 days prior to Easter are intended as a time of fasting, moderation and self-denial with the purpose of repenting of our sins and growing closer to God as we contemplate the Crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and His resurrection the following Sunday.
Most people give up things like meat, chocolate, coffee, sweets, and other foods. Some will even forego TV or social media or cell phones.
But this year, the situation is different. We are sheltering in place, cut off from friends and family in many cases, giving up personal freedom to protect ourselves and others.
We should use this opportunity well, not in binge-watching TV, but taking advantage of this enforced isolation to draw closer to God.
Think about the events leading up to Resurrection Sunday.
Jesus determined to go to Jerusalem even though He knew He was going to His death. The Disciples warned Him that it was dangerous.
At first everything seemed to go well. On the Sunday before Passover, he entered the City in a great celebration we now commemorate as Palm Sunday. The people greeted him as the Messiah and King. Everything seemed to be going well, sort of like our economy before the Pandemic. But that didn’t last.
Celebration yielded to a Time of Fear. When Jesus was betrayed by a friend and arrested, the Disciples scattered and deserted Him. Peter denied Him. They didn’t understand what was happening, even though Jesus tried to explain it to them in advance.
Jesus isolated himself in an extreme manner – to the point of death. He was tortured cruelly, nailed to a cross, and subject to humiliation. Abandoned by almost everyone except his mother Mary, John and several women, he was surrounded by soldiers, mockers and enemies. He was rejected even by God when he took our sin on himself to pay the penalty we should have paid. He cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was totally alone – for our sake.
He did this voluntarily, because he loves us. In comparison, our self-isolation to protect friends and family during the pandemic is mild, even though important.
So, look forward to Resurrection Sunday. Jesus arose from the dead and entered into a changed world that offered new hope and new life in Him. We don’t know when this Pandemic will end, but it will. We will emerge from our homes into a changed world. Will it be for the better?
God often uses crises in our lives to draw us closer to Him. The fear produced by the pandemic has lead people to explore their spirituality. Christianity Today reported that the coronavirus has lead millions to draw near to Jesus. See David Roach, “Coronavirus Searches Lead Millions to Hear About Jesus,” Christianity Today, April 7, 2020, accessed online at https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/april/coronavirus-searches-online-converts-pray-cru-bgea-wmo.html
What about you? If you are afraid and seeking God, here are some resources to help: