Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For me, this isn’t just a busy time of the year, but one of the most meaningful times.
I talked with someone earlier this week, though, who mentioned that she found Lent to be kind of depressing. She wasn’t saying she didn’t like it or didn’t believe in it, necessarily. She just thought it was depressing. From a certain standpoint, I can see her point.
In Adam we have all been one,
One huge rebellious man;
We all have fled that evening voice
That sought us as we ran.
We fled our God, and losing him,
We lost our brother too.
Each singly sought and claimed his own;
Each man his brother slew.
It is kind of depressing to think about my sin. It can be depressing to realize that, try as I may, I’ve messed things up. I’ve fallen woefully short of God’s will for my life in pretty much every way possible. It might, I suppose, depress me to know that, even on my best day, I don’t deserve anything good from God in any way.
But your strong love, it sought us still
And sent your only Son
That we might hear his shepherd-voice
And, hearing him, be one.
O Savior, when we loved you not,
You loved and saved us all;
O great good Shepherd of mankind,
Oh, hear us when we call.
But Lent isn’t meant to keep us in any sort of despair or state of depression. The remembrance of our sin needs to be followed by the remembrance of what God did about our sin. Namely, he sent his Son to live perfectly in our place and pay the price our sin owed. This news isn’t depressing; it’s the opposite. It’s pure joy.
Send us your Spirit; teach us truth
To purge our vanity.
From fancied wisdom, self-sought ways,
O Savior, set us free.
Then shall our song united rise
To your eternal throne,
Where with the Father evermore
And Spirit you are one. 1
So, I know I’m looking forward to this Lenten season, and I hope it’s a blessing for you, too. Yes, it can be depressing to stare our sins straight in the face. But looking into the face of Jesus’ love from the cross and the empty tomb brings joy and peace now and forever.
- From Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal hymn 396 ↩