I never understood Lent as a kid. I remember seeing people walking around with black smudges on their foreheads and thinking that they must be really weird.
But a few years back I went to a church that held some services for Ash Wednesday, and it totally opened my eyes to see how meaningful and important Lent can be as a preparation for Easter.
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul talks about how he had been given a “thorn” in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. We never find out exactly what the thorn was, but it was clearly a source of weakness for him. Listen to what he says about it 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV):
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I like to think of Lent as a time to slow down, remind myself of my weaknesses, and recognize just how much I need the power of Christ to rest upon my life.
Easter is on the horizon, and by giving things up at Lent we can refocus our hearts on the resurrected King.
This blog is based on a Lent study that I wrote for Download Youth Ministry.
You can check it out here.