Ash Wednesday fell a few days ago. This marked the Lenten season and about six weeks until Easter. The Lenten season is one of preparation through prayer, repentance and self-denial. Lent was traditionally described as lasting 40 days to reflect Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness where he fasted and defeated temptations from the devil.
Some Christians participate in Lent by fasting or giving up something for the duration of the season. Other Christians ignore the season as a whole. Neither is more or less holy for following traditional customs. However, those who do participate in the season sometimes miss the whole reason for Lent.
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert to be alone because the Spirit called Him to do so. Only after 40 days of fasting when he was hungry, did the devil begin to tempt Him. Jesus combated the enemy by quoting the scripture He knew so well. Every time the devil thought he had Jesus at the point of breaking, Jesus recited and believed an Old Testament teaching to defeat him.
We are called to do the same during the Lenten season. See, Jesus was human. He needed food to survive. He was not able to magically make Himself less hungry just because He was God. He was fully human as well.
The Lenten season does not call us to go completely without food for six weeks, but it does call us to give up something. This does not mean giving up something we don’t need, but something we can’t live without. That may be social media, Netflix, coffee or whatever. Something that makes us feel weak without it.
In that weakness we are able to come to God and ask to be filled up by Him instead. This weakness then becomes replaced with God’s strength, and we no longer rely on what we gave up. It becomes a treat or reward, but not something we can’t live without.
Many Christians are good about giving something up, but they sometimes replace that something with something else, not God. It is very important to supplement the fast with God. Only then are we able to understand what Jesus went through in the wilderness and become prepared for Easter.