If there is one thing the Lenten Season will do it is to bring to our consciousness the horrific reality of sin. The corruption of sin is more deeply felt; the devastation brought on by sin becomes more obvious; the cost of sin is more fully recognized.
In the practice of giving up something for Lent, one comes to experience one’shumanness in a drastic way. Whether it’s chocolate or diet drinks (or eventaking on speaking only kind words), you are left to face your own inabilityto conquer the effects of sin in your life. Even if you do find the strengthto follow through on your Lenten commitment, you are left to face the realitythat this small sacrifice does not even come close to paying the debt that yoursin has created.
Sin is enormous. Sin’s affect on this world is devastating. Sin’sdreadful reality is all around us in the world. It leaves us humans hopelessand helpless, stripped of possible solutions of our own. I sense this realityin the lives of my friends as they deal with cancer in their eleven-month-olddaughter. The cancer is a result of sin. It’s not her sin or her parent’ssin. It is the reality of how living in a sin-filled world has stolen this timein this young couple’s lives when they would like to be making all thenecessary preparations to celebrate their precious daughter’s first birthdayparty. Instead they are helpless to stop the effect of rebellious cells creatinga malignant mass in the small body of their baby girl. They can do what theycan do to get her treatment. They can follow all the doctor’s orders. Theycannot take away this effect of sin from their daughter’s life. Even thoughthey would gladly give their own lives to save hers that is not an option forthem.
Sin is a fierce enemy to the human soul. The more we challenge the sin in ourlives the more we face the facts that we are limited in ourselves to conquersin. There is only one way to deal with sin. Sin has only one cure. There isone hope. That hope is found at Easter.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus came face to face with the true cost of sin.Mark 14:35-36 describes what happened. Going a little farther, he fell tothe ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba,Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup fromme. Yet not what I will, but what you will." This statement revealshow horrifying dealing with sin was for God. In spite of the cost, Jesus facedsin head on for us. There is little we can do on our own to deal with the problemof our sin. Because of what Jesus did through His death, burial and resurrection,the most devastating effect of sin has been eliminated for all who call on thename of Jesus. During the Lenten season and beyond, we face our sins in the powerof the cross. We claim a strength beyond ourselves and we walk away from sinfor the glory of our Father.
It doesn’t make death not hurt; but it does make death hurt a lot less. In all the deaths I mentioned earlier I know that these folks are in heaven. I know that though they experienced an earthly death, they now enjoy life eternal and the most complete kind of death; the death that Jesus faced, will never be able to touch them.
I still cry at funerals; I still feel the pain, hurt, loss and loneliness of death on this earth, but this Lenten season reminds me that ultimately death has been conquered in my life.