Lenten Reflection for Sat 3/2/2013

Psalm am: 75, 76
pm: 23, 27 Jeremiah 5:20-31
Romans 3:19-31 John 7:1-13

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”   —-Psalm 23:4

Lent comes every year on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days. The 40 days of Lent reminds us
of the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness. Right after Jesus’ baptism, after the Spirit descends
like a dove and God declares Jesus to be God’s beloved Son, the Spirit leads Jesus out in
the wilderness. There he is tempted by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights. For us as Christians,
Lent is a time of spiritual wilderness, a time when we are called to take on a new spiritual discipline
or give up a worldly temptation.
As people living in the world, however, our wilderness times are not so neatly scheduled. They
don’t start on a given date and end 40 days later. They come at any time, and when we are in the
middle of the wilderness, we usually have no way of knowing how long it’s going to last.
This psalm speaks of wilderness times, for what could be more “wilderness” than the valley of
the shadow of death? And no one likes being in the wilderness. It’s a place of pain and loss, a
place of darkness. We can’t see our way through this darkness, and so we are vulnerable.
But the darkness has a purpose. Gerald May explains it this way.

“God darkens our awareness in order to keep us safe. When we cannot chart our own course, we become vulnerable to God’s protection, and the darkness becomes a ‘guiding night,’ a ‘night more kindly than the dawn.’ The night is dark for our protection. We cannot liberate ourselves; our defenses and resistances will not permit it, and we can hurt ourselves in the attempt. To guide us toward the love that we most desire, we must be taken where we could not and  would not go on our own. And lest we sabotage the journey, we must not know where we are going.”  —-The Dark Night of the Soul, pp. 72-73

What a comfort it is to know that God is with us in these dark times. And God doesn’t just walk
with us through the valley of the shadow of death, comforting us with his rod and staff. God is
continually at work to redeem whatever situation we find ourselves in.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
—-Hymnal 1982, #636 How Firm a Foundation

Gina Barrett

musician, dog lover, crossword puzzle aficionado, loves to read & eat

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