Lent 2019 - WEEK 5 (March 31)
Psalm 126: The Lord has done great things, we are filled with joy.
I don’t know about you, but this Lent has not played out the way I thought it would. I had grand expectations for this season filled with fasting and observances that would reorient my sluggish heart towards God and culminate in me finally achieving holiness. You should have seen me, on Ash Wednesday I came out of the Lenten gates blazing with gusto and grace. But now, a few weeks in, I must admit that the “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Don’t get me wrong; I have tried my best-ish. I’m not going to say that I’ve completed every observance perfectly, but I’ve been faithful to my commitments. However, my pursuit of holiness seems as if it is still that: a pursuit, as in, not reached or achieved yet. Five weeks ago I probably could have been suckered into betting good money that I would have been more saintly or angelic by now, but it seems like I have gained very little ground despite my effort.
If I’m honest, there is a part of me that is disappointed and even discouraged; I wish holiness was easier. However, Psalm 126 has reminded me that maybe I’ve been looking at things a bit askew. At first glance, the passage may seem a bit unbalanced as some verses speak of mouths filled with laughter while others highlight those who sow in tears. Yet, the response pulls it all together for us, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
Isn’t it interesting that the psalmist recalls what God has done for us during this season when so many of us are fixated on what we are doing for God? Though I’m ashamed to say it, if I were writing this psalm before Lent my version probably would have been, “we have done great things, we are filled with joy.”
Of course, the psalm does not give us a pass from our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent. Instead, it realigns our motives and actions, reminding us that it is not just a time to make ourselves better, but a season to place ourselves in a posture where we can better encounter God. In other words, our religious activities should lead us to a divine intimacy.
Hopefully this Lent you are experiencing a closeness to God that you have never experienced before, and you feel as if your mouth has been filled with laughter for these 40 days. But maybe you are in a similar place as me, feeling a bit underwhelmed and uninspired and sowing with tears. Wherever you may be in your spiritual journey this day, the good news is Lent isn’t over yet! So, if you haven’t kept up with your observances as you had intended, it isn’t too late to get back on the horse. But let’s not what we do distract us from what God may be doing.
For the remainder of this holy season, let's all take note from the psalmist and take a moment to recount the great things God has done. As we prepare for Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we should be simultaneously overwhelmed and comforted by the profound reality that our faith has never been predicated primarily upon what we do but what Christ has already done.
The Lord has done great things, we are filled with joy.
Written by Kris Frank
Kris Frank attended Franciscan University and graduated in 2008 with a degree in catechetics and theology with a youth ministry concentration. With over 10 years of parish youth ministry experience, Kris and his family now live as missionaries serving the poor and inner-city youth with Dirty Vagabond Ministries. Kris also has been privileged to travel around the country, sharing the Gospel with teens and young adults at various churches, camps, and conferences. Kris spends his free time with his beautiful wife, Grace, and their four children. He is grateful every day for the gift of God’s grace and the joy of serving the Church.