Today marks the first Sunday of Lent, the season of prayer and penitence as we reflect upon Christ’s suffering and sacrifice—his life, death, burial, and resurrection. During this period, we devote ourselves to being quiet before God, reading and reflecting upon His word, considering and confessing the depth of our sin, but also the greater grace of God’s love in which lies our living hope.
Amidst all the geopolitical conflicts, economic uncertainties, geological disasters, humanitarian crises, and social unrests (caused or exacerbated by human greed and corruption)— happening even as the world is still struggling to step out of the current pandemic—we need no further reminder of the darkened and broken world we are living in. At every turn in our lives, we see sin and the destruction it brings. Indeed, the Bible tells us that we live in a fallen world marred by sin; with Isaiah, we lament that we are sinful persons living among other sinful people (Isa 6:5).
Today, our need for light and hope has not lessened one bit from the days of Isaiah. As we await the promised day on which sin and death are no more, and things on earth are as in heaven (Rev. 21:1-4), let prayer and penitence fortify us for perseverance in our journey of faith. Every prayer and penitential confession, from the most faithful to the least, comes from a place of poverty before God: “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). In prayer, we are strengthened to believe that God is with us in the midst of our chaos and pain, and of whatever that is coming; through penitence, we are transformed and drawn out of ourselves to rely on God.
In these weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter, there are a few ways for us to observe Lent and draw close to God. To give more time to prayer and reflection, we may choose to fast from our pastime and entertainment such as trekking, golf, social media, and Netflix. We may also give up some simple pleasures like feasting, shopping, coffee, and bubble tea, in order to give to charity and serve those who have less. No matter which way you choose, the spiritual disciplines of abstinence steer our attention away from temporary satisfactions and train us to grow in godliness (1 Tim 4:7). So how are you growing this Lent?