THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Thursday, March 18th
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 NRSV)
I needed this reminder to persevere this Lent. The year of isolation and distancing are weighing on me, even as we begin to see more vaccinations and less cases of COVID. We recently canceled our family vacation for the second time, we are still grieving the loss of a loved one, we are still concerned about another, and we really miss our community of family and friends.
Does it seem to you that the waiting gets more difficult, the closer we are to the end?
These passages are tough to heed these days. I am weary of persevering, of “producing endurance.” But today I wonder if our perseverance serves as a profound witness and visible example of our faith for others. Does our continued hope and optimism bolster someone else’s faith journey? When we persevere, are we helping someone else do the same? And at the end of the day, despite the hardships, are we more blessed to have continued on, to have made the most of this precious life we have been given? Yes. We know all of these to be true.
More and more, I find that we need God’s help through community in order to persevere. Years ago I ran a 10K race, determined to complete it in under an hour. Oh, I did the training, I paced myself, I did what I could to succeed. But I know that I never would have persevered without the help of others! Along the way, volunteers handed out cups of water and cheered us on. At one tough hill, a high school band played upbeat music. The runners in the lead encouraged me on. There was a crowd waiting at the end to welcome us across the finish line. But the ones who blessed me most were the ones who fell behind; they never looked deterred, but only determined to finish. One of my friends proudly exclaimed, “Someone has to come in last!”
Our spiritual invitation for today is to persevere – and to persevere in helping one another to persevere! Does someone you know need a bit of encouragement today? Who might appreciate a note, a call, a text? Do you need encouragement to persevere? We can always count on God’s help, but is there someone you need to ask for help – someone God can use to help you? Perhaps in the asking, you will be blessing, too.
May we let God strengthen and encourage us so that we may continue our journey with perseverance and endurance, and may we help and support one another all along the way.
Our readings for tomorrow will be Galatians 6:10, Romans 14:19, and 1 Corinthians 14:26.
Bible verses are from https://classic.biblegateway.com/