Lent: Suffering and Joy

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When I was in middle school, my father forced me to give up dinner for the whole season of Lent to participate in the suffering of Christ. That was forty days of no dinner! I thought it was horrifying to miss dinner for forty days. So instead, I made a compromise to fast for three straight days. If you do the math, of course, you would know that missing nine meals is better than forty; or at least that is what I thought.

Have you tried not eating for three consecutive days? Perhaps, you have no problem not eating for few days, but I experienced hell fasting for three days. You see, I was supposed to pray and think about Jesus during the period of fasting, but to tell you the truth, I only thought about food. Hamburgers, french fries, Korean food, Chinese food, Mexican food… You name it; it was all on my mind.

On the last night of fasting at 12:01 AM, I ran to the local McDonald’s and got myself a Big Mac Meal. I came home triumphantly and finished the entire meal in 5 minutes. That is how hungry I was. Oh! I was a happy man! The post-fasting satisfaction of fast-food was unimaginable! However, after rushing through the meal too quickly, my stomach began to growl. It felt like an atomic bomb exploding inside of me, and I was sick for the next two days.

Afterward, this whole incident made me wonder what the point of Lent is. Why do we have to fast or give up certain things during the season of Lent? Are we doing it simply to experience some religious afflictions? Are we trying actually to participate in Jesus’ suffering? I asked these questions to my youth group pastor, and this is the gist of what he had said: We fast or give up certain things during Lent to focus more on Jesus and find joy in Him.

Finding joy through fasting!?  Suffering and joy usually don’t go hand in hand, but his teaching gave me a whole new perspective on Lent. I always thought Lent was about suffering for Jesus. For me, it was never about joy, and I never imagined focusing on Jesus can give me joy. But that is what I discovered during that Lent. After recovering from my illness, I gave up video games for the rest of Lent. I was tempted many times to play, but since I made the promise, I used my video game time to listen to Christian music, read the Bible and other devotionals, and pray.

During that period, I was able to finish reading the whole book of Genesis. I was so proud of myself because it was my first time reading a book in the Bible through my own decision. And you know what? I felt much closer to Jesus, and there was a strange joy inside me. It was so satisfying and complete.

How I hope you would experience the godly joy in Christ that surpasses all of the pleasures that this world could offer!

Lent begins March 1 (Wednesday), and I invite you to give up something in your life to discover the wondrous peace and joy found in Christ through this year’s Lent. You can give up your cell phone, a meal each day, games, Facebook, Youtube etc. Just come to Him with as much as you can handle. It is not about scoring points with God; it is about yearning for Him through hunger and thirst, and finding Christ, our joy!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6
New International Version

Note from the Editor:

Throughout the season of Lent, members of the DSYG Praise Team and Leadership Team will be sharing reflections on their own Lenten experiences. We hope that these reflections will serve as a reminder of the reality of Christian living as well as encouragement as you undergo your own experience with Lent. Please support our writers by reading their posts and encouraging them as well.

Each Lenten Reflection will be available will be available under in the Blog section of the DSYG website or by clicking this link.

2 thoughts on “Lent: Suffering and Joy

  1. Nice post PD! I hope that when I do my bible studies during Lent, I can be as joyful as you were reading Genesis. It’s nice to know that even a pastor has lots of sufferings giving things up to become closer to God. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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