Lent is a season dedicated to self-evaluation. It’s a time to press pause on the fleetings of life and to press play on the realities of our eternality. It’s about confession. Not the kind where our apologies mean something one day and nothing the next, but the kind of repentance that recognizes the need to continually seek permanent healing and cleansing. It’s a time to fully engage the power of prayer. It is too frequent that we recite our well-worded prayers at organized times of the day. What would our lives look like if they were viewed as becoming vulnerable before the feet of Jesus with the broken pieces we have to offer? Lent is also a time to fast, or to sacrifice one aspect that occupies our attention and to return our eyes to Jesus. It’s a time to fill our minds and feed our hearts with the food of truth.
But at the center of the season is a directed focus and emphasis on our relationship with God. The thing that holds all of these actions together is a cord of compassion. As we present our whole beings to sit and dwell in the coming death of Christ, we get a glimpse into the kind of compassion that Christ demonstrated for us: radical, revealing, and refreshing. Societal ways tell us that we must diagnose situations and that we must be trained doctors with skills to always prescribe a solution or else we fail to feel the gratifications of being a friend.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:33-36).
The death of Lazarus during Jesus’ ministry on earth demonstrated compassion in its truest form. Compassion is a feeling that is so powerful because it is an emotion that moved the very heart of Jesus. Before Jesus did anything, he was moved. At that very moment, he taught us to only act if our hearts are moved. Why? Because it showed the Jews then and it shows us now of the love compassion attests to.
Lent is about sitting in the suffering with Jesus. Lent is about dwelling in the death that is to come. Lent is about waiting, a long and arduous waiting. It is painful and hard, yes, but the depth of the sorrow allows for us to experience the great height of the joy and celebration of the resurrection.
Lent is remembering that we put Christ on the cross. Lent is remembering that Christ calls us to pick up our own cross and to follow him. He never promised an easy and comfortable life. He said there would be suffering and persecution. If we are to imitate Jesus to manifest his glory in our lives, we must sit in the strain for the sake of salvation. This posture of Lent equips us with compassion, and because of it, greater love that strives toward that love of the one who first loved us.