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Sorrow is common to us all.
Sorrow is part of what it means to live, part of what it means to be human.
Frederick Buechner says that this universal experience is what pulls us together, is what makes us feel akin to each other.
Sorrow is what keeps coming back to me as I prepare for this season of Lent.
While we all experience sorrow, only those of us who claim the name of Jesus have experienced the sorrow that comes when we are brought face to face with the shadowless light of God that exposes all of the ugliness deep inside.
It is this kind of sorrow that leads to the cross of Christ.
It is this kind of sorrow that leads to the beauty of transformation.
It is this kind of sorrow that changes everything.
Paul says that this kind of sorrow produces hope within that does not fail.
Paul also says that there is a worldly sorrow and a godly sorrow.
The worldly kind of sorrow produces death.
The godly kind of sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation.
It is this kind of sorrow that breaks us and opens us wide to the painful healing that saves us.
It is this kind of sorrow that I want to lean into this Lent.
Our God is standing with His arms wide open, offering this kind of sorrow.
“Yet even now,” declare the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~ Joel
I attended an Ash Wednesday service at a nearby Lutheran church this week.
We stood and confessed all together that we had sinned, that we had done wrong against God and against each other, that we couldn’t even manage to do the good God had asked of us much less refrain from doing evil.
And then we walked up to the pastor, one by one, and were marked with ashes.
We were marked with ashes as we mourned the wrong we cannot seem to turn away from.
We were marked with ashes in the sign of the cross as we remembered that we are covered by the grace of God.
The pastor looked me straight in the eye and said, “You are marked by the cross of Christ. You are a child of God.”
This is what this kind of sorrow produces.
The gift of becoming children of God.
So lean into your sorrow in this season so that you can settle into the hope of joy for eternity.
You are marked by the cross of Christ.
You are a child of God.
Art credits: Sketch of The Three Crosses by Rembrandt; all other photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019