Third Week of Lent | April Hefner
As March roars in like a lion or calmly entreats us lamb-like to enter the new month, thoughts turn to the warm weather that may only be weeks away. In this season of Lent, all too often my mind is centered on another season of longing: spring! Months of wintry weather and overcast skies inspire me to look to the skies for sunshine and obsessively check the forecast for rising high temperatures.
Frankly, this is not the time I want to be reading about despair, discouragement and depression. I don’t want to be reminded of my aloneness, my anger or my anguish at the state of the world or the condition of my own heart. I’ve been sitting with those emotions all winter, trapped indoors by cold winds and early nightfall, freed from the many distractions that other seasons offer. Rather, by March I’m desperate for spring’s hope, light and warmth.
But the Psalmist in our Lenten reading won’t let go, reminding us again and again of our downcast souls and mourning. “My tears have been my food day and night,” he writes, followed shortly by, “My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me” (42:3,10).
Our culture teaches us to run from discomfort, to drown our sorrows, and here in the South, we tend to swallow our pain like big gulps of sweet tea. Repression and phony “joy” mask the ugliness and doubts that lie within us all. Why are we so afraid to sit in that darkness? What might we learn from this Psalm about honesty even in the midst of life’s struggles? I am reminded by Jesus’ words in John that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Acknowledging the reality of our souls—particularly in their darkest moments—draws us deeper into relationship with the One who breathes life into our lungs, who gives grace to the undeserving, who even makes the mountains tremble. That is a God who can handle my questions and my pain. Yes, that is a God that I will thirst for. As one commentary noted, the God of mercy is present with us even in the midst of our misery. May this season of Lent inspire us toward authenticity in our faith and with one another.
Assistant Director of Communications