With Ash Wednesday being just two days ago, we are now firmly into the season of Lent. “The Lord Will Answer” (Concordia Publishing House, 2004) describes Lent this way:
The word lent has its origin in the same root as one of the German words for “spring,” Lenz. As nature awakens from the death of winter, so the Christian finds newness of life in Christ, rising from sin’s death.
During the 40 days of Lent, God’s baptized people cleanse their hearts through the discipline of Lent: repentance, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a time in which God’s people prepare with joy for the pascal feast (Easter). It is a time in which God renews His people’s zeal in faith and life. It is a time in which we pray that we may be given the fullness of grace that belongs to the children of God.
Because Ash Wednesday fell on the same day as my high school morning Bible Study, we spent some time talking about Lent and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us. We sang songs like “By His Wounds” and “Sweetly Broken,” which have phrases in them like:
“We are healed by Your sacrifice, in the life that You gave.”
“To the cross I look, and to the cross I cling.”
“You draw me gently, to my knees, and I am lost for words, so lost in love.”
“I was under Your wrath, now through the cross I’m reconciled.”
We also read the “suffering Servant” portion of Isaiah which says:
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. 14 As many were astonished at you– his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind– 15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.
53:1 Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52:13-53:12ESV)
But is Lent just like the old Hee Haw song, “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me?”
Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me
I say “NO!” We repent, we fast, we pray not out of a sense of despair and gloom but out of a deep sense of gratitude for what God has done for us!
He was pierced—for us! He was crushed—for us! He was wounded—for us! He was oppressed—for us! He was afflicted—for us! He rose again—for us!