The Lent Trap

Lent. Otherwise known quite often in my mind as six weeks without soda–or something like that. Oh, it starts off well enough. The first few days I’m really into it. I go to my church’s early morning Ash Wednesday service. I’m reading the scriptures, prayers, and devotions of the season. I’m challenged by fasting from the sugar or other enjoyable chosen food item. I enjoy the widespread availability of fish and chips.

Then I hit a wall. Part of it is probably the lethargy and moodiness that Seasonal Affective Disorder brings into my life every winter and which is still in full swing in February when Lent begins. Part of it is probably the sudden withdrawal from sodas, candy, and whatever else I’ve chosen to give up. Mostly, however, it is Lent doing what Lent is meant to do: show us our weakness as frail, mortal human beings in need of redemption. The lethargy, the withdrawal–it all goes back to the fact that we are broken people looking to be made whole again.

I don’t have the strength to pull this off. And that doesn’t just refer to a Lenten fast; that means life in general. The fact that I will inevitably wind up drinking a Coke or eating some candy on a day other than Sunday (the traditional break from the fast each week) only points to the fact that we are very temptation-plagued creatures.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Lord, the weakness shows itself readily and often. May your power be shown just as much.

(Cover image: Britton Riviere, “The Temptation in the Wilderness,” 1898)