Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season, the forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays). I wrote a new devotional, Journey to the Cross, if you are looking for a resource to guide you.
As we approach Holy Week, where we remember the sacrifice, suffering, and resurrection of our Savior, it’s good to give ourselves to humble and thankful mourning.
Yes, we should be rejoicing people because we have in the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus eternal reason to rejoice. But this side of our final home, our rejoicing should be mixed with mourning as we witness, experience, and, sadly, give way to the presence and power of evil.
Something is wrong with us if we can look around and look inside and not mourn. You don’t have to look very far to see that we live, work, and relate in a world that has been twisted and bent by sin.
The sin-scarred condition of the world is evident in your heart, your home, your neighborhood, and your church. We see it in government, politics, business, education, entertainment, and the internet.
In Romans 8, Paul captures the sad condition of the world in three provocative phrases that should break our hearts:
“subjected to futility” (v. 20)
“its bondage to corruption” (v. 21)
“in the pains of childbirth” (v. 22)
Mourning, though painful, does something wonderful to you. Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount that those who mourn are blessed. These sad realities that cause you to weep also cause you to cry out for the help, rescue, forgiveness, and deliverance of a Redeemer.
Jesus said that if you mourn, you will be comforted. He’s not talking about the comfort of elevated feelings. He’s talking about the comfort of the presence and grace of a Redeemer, who meets you in your mourning, hears your cries for help, comes to you in saving mercy, and wraps arms of eternal love around you.
It’s the comfort of knowing that you’re forgiven, being restored, now living in a reconciled relationship with the one who made you, and now living with your destiny secure.
Mourning sin—past, present, and future—is the first step in seeking and celebrating the divine grace that is the hope of everyone whose heart has been made able to see by that very same grace.
So it is right and beneficial to take a season of the year to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of our hearts clarified once again. Lent is such a season.
Lent is about remembering the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. Lent is about confessing our ongoing battle with sin. Lent is about fasting, and not just from food; we willingly and joyfully let go of things in this world that have too much of a hold on us.
And Lent is about giving ourselves in a more focused way to prayer, crying out for the help that we desperately need from the only one who can provide it.
P.S. – it’s not too late to start Journey to the Cross, my new 40-day Lenten devotional. Whether you use this resource or another companion, may your mourning increase so that your joy may deepen.
May you groan more so that you would pray more. May your sadness ignite your celebration. And may all of this result in blessings that are too big and too obvious to miss.
Paul David Tripp
1. How frequently do you rejoice? Is your daily walk with Christ characterized by joy?
2. What reasons do you have for rejoicing and gladness today? “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) How should this affect your words and actions towards others?
3. How frequently do you mourn? Is your sadness self-centered because you didn’t get your way, or do you weep with the heart of God?
4. What reasons do you have for holy mourning and weeping today? How should this affect your words and actions towards others?
5. How can you use this Lenten season to become a person of deeper faith who both rejoices and mourns in line with Scripture? Be specific.