After reading a recent CNN article titled, “Americans are asked for more sacrifices as coronavirus keeps spreading,” a thought suddenly popped into my head: “What are you giving up for Lent? Oh, everything.” The timing of this “sacrifice” has God’s timing written all over it. Here we are each year giving up what we think seems very pious and sacrificial, and God replies, “Actually, this is what you will give up.” A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Condon wrote:

We always come at Lent like we are going to shape God. Like we are going to tell him all about our willpower and our devotion to Him… God takes our plans and pushes them further this season.He pulls them apart and puts them back together. In so many ways, Lent is the season when Jesus shapes us.

Right now it feels like God is taking our plans and pulling them apart more and more everyday. We are reminded of how little control we have over our own lives and our own choices. This thought can either freak us out and cause us to scramble to feel some kind of control, or it can drive us back to the loving arms of God our Father. We are like the prodigal son dragging his feet along the dusty road. He returns out of necessity, not because of some altruistic decision he’s made to live a holier life. And yet the Father is ecstatic to run out to him (and us) with welcoming arms.

As we trudge down this strange Lenten road, we remember the cross, the tomb, and most importantly the empty tomb, and we consider how much God sacrificed. Giving up school, church, eating at restaurants, conferences (😩) and, for some, even employment, is not to be minimized. These are drastic times. But through our unplanned sacrifices, God reminds us that Jesus sacrificed everything.

We did not make these sacrifices willingly, but he went to the cross willingly, and his sacrifice saves us eternally. His sacrifice guarantees the one thing we will never have to give up… God’s presence with us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)