This Lenten season is about preparation. I think that the Lord is asking us to prepare to remember all He has done for us and to expect Him to move again in mighty ways, regardless of where we find ourselves in the midst of tough circumstances.
I hope that as you read this you find yourself in a season of peace and lightness, but I know that some are reading this a little worn down, discouraged, worried, feeling a little worse for the wear. For those of you that find yourself in a hard place in this moment, take heart, for you are certainly still capable of making space for Jesus to move.
So what does it look like to prepare our hearts when life just doesn’t feel okay? Perhaps you find yourself in a garden of despair. You may, like Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane have shed so many tears that you wonder how you can survive.
How do we prepare to celebrate the greatest hope the world has ever known when it’s hard to hope that the difficult circumstances we may find ourselves in presently will ever change? When we’re struggling with a divorce? A broken relationship with a child? An unexpected health problem?
I have found that our human nature would probably have us respond with one of two ways:
1) It could be tempting to be in the midst of difficulty and just try to hide our problems. However, when we choose to hide, it is easy to suddenly find ourselves in a place of despair feeling trapped in circumstances that seem like they will never change. From experience, I know that this is a hard place to try to find hope.
2) It could also be tempting to pretend like the problems do not exist. We put the mask on, we tell people we’re okay, but we walk around feeling like we could cave in on ourselves at any moment. Unfortunately, I find that denial is a growing epidemic in the church right now, and yet our churches and community should be the safest place to be our most authentic selves, no matter how broken. It is hard to move forward from a place of denial, but honesty always lends itself to being a great starting point.
There is a third response though, and this is the one I feel God would call us all to do.
Instead of hiding, instead of pretending that nothing is the matter, we can choose to turn to God and have a brutally honest conversation with Him about where we are and let Him minister to us. Let Him hear us and hold us. We don’t know all the conversation Christ had with His Father on that brutal night of betrayal, but we do know He asked if it was possible that the cup of suffering be taken away. We too are invited to let our Father into the mess, into the despair, into the hopelessness and He meets us right there in it. He picks up our head, locks eyes with us and comforts us. His love and kindness make it possible for you and I to pray, “Not my will but yours.”
This is what preparation looks like in our hearts, but this is usually a process. Inward heart transformation rarely happens overnight, so what are some practical steps we can do to externally begin to realign our hearts with God’s heart?
In our Good Friday experiences we must hold onto the truth that Sunday is coming. I find that one of the best ways to jumpstart moving from a place of pain into a place of healing is to take a moment and to look up from the storms inside of us and look at the world around us and try to show Jesus to the world with one small random act of kindness at a time.
How can a random act of kindness toward others lead us in times when our lives are simply not okay?
I have learned that kindness – buying someone’s meal in the drive-thru line, writing a note for a loved one, cooking a meal for a family in need – no matter how seemingly small is us making a conscious decision to look for joy. Blessing someone else in a hard season is us actively choosing to not let our circumstances dictate how we act and live our lives. It is deciding to still live out of love for those around us and deciding to be the hands and feet of Jesus even when it is hard because………..we have this Easter hope, and this hope will not disappoint!
Partnering with God in these small ways lead us closer to His heart and closer and in turn end up blessing us in return. So when life is hard. When life is not okay. When we are in the midst of the trials and tribulations we were warned would be inevitable during our time on earth, have an honest conversation with God, pour out your heart and remind your soul that Sunday is coming! Jesus gave it all for you.
Now’s a great time to join us and invite your friends, reading group, small group or women’s ministry to join us. You can go at your own pace starting with week 1.
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It’s never too late to start again, and there’s no better way than side by side with Jesus.