Lent: Trusting and Following our Suffering Savior
As we continue in Lent, consider the trials of Joseph as he suffered according to God's call. Joseph received a prominent call to leadership among Egypt and over his brothers. This call provoked jealousy among his brothers, stirring them to sell him in slavery to some traders. This sent Joseph's life in a downward spiral towards suffering (Accused of adultery with Potiphar's wife, falsley imprisoned, neglected by those he helped). In all of this he learned to walk with God while trusting His promises. He reminds us that the call to trust and follow Christ, typically means entering into suffering for others with the hope that what man means for evil, God means for good to accomplish his redemptive purposes in the world (Genesis 50:20).
This principle of suffering with hope summed up in the story of Joseph is the principle that moves us through the Lent Season to Resurrection Sunday. Acts 2:22-24 says, “22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Jesus persistently pursued the path of suffering for our salvation. He was delivered up according to the plan of God and by the hands of lawless men (they meant it for evil). But God raised this Jesus on the third day, loosing the pangs of death for Jesus and for all who trust in his sin bearing death and glorious resurrection (God meant it for good). This Lent season, let's be known as a people that suffer for others as we serve sacrificially like our Suffering savior served us. Our God will accomplish his redemptive purposes thorugh our sacrificial service no matter the cost. May this guide us through the season of lent!
A few ways to make the most of the Lent Season:
1. This Lent season take time to pray through the Psalms of confession to grow in sorrow over sin and see your need of Jesus our Savior (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 41, 102, 130, 143)
2. This Lent season take time to sacrificially serve your family, neighbors, and church as Christ sacrifically served us.
3. Read this excerpt below that describes Lent taken from Seeking God's Face by Phillip Reinders.
“Lent, popularly understood as a season of joyless custom and duty, carries almost too much religious baggage for some people. How then do we keep the gospel front and center in this season of shadows? The cross keeps our gospel focus clear. Lent is a season to journey with Jesus in his passion, to survey the cross, taking the measure of Christ’s love in his suffering and death.
"Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is the forty-day season leading up to Easter. (If you count all the days, there are more than forty, but the Sundays are not counted as part of Lent, as they are resurrection celebrations held throughout the season.) It begins with the stark reminder that “from dust you have come and to dust you will return” and leads toward Jesus’ final week, marked by Palm Sunday and stopping short of the resurrection celebration of Easter morning. Ashes are a good emblem of Lent, a picture of our own mortality and spiritual condition, a sign of Lent’s penitent spirit, and yet a hint of the hope of renewal.
Celebration isn’t the word to use for our participation in Lent. It is a somber journey of spiritual preparation and renewal, marked especially by repentance and prayer. In our pain-averse culture, Lent stands apart by not shrinking away from suffering but cultivating in us the wisdom that growth often (some might say only) comes through suffering. In a time and place of religious freedom, where we mostly don’t suffer for following Christ, Lent invites us to willingly identify with Christ’s suffering through fasting or other forms of self-denial.
The spare and sober nature of Lent is healthy for the heart and true to the gospel, scrubbing away frothy spirituality by calling us to say no to ourselves in order to experience a greater yes in Jesus. It helps to imprint the form of the cross in our lives, recognizing that the news of the risen Lord Jesus is not good without the way of the cross. Lent prepares us to experience the reality of resurrection joy only by first recognizing the depth of our sin that pinned Christ to the cross.”