Day Twenty-Two: Joy

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

When Lent is lived well, it is not a season we might describe as “fun.” But “fun” should never be equated with joy. One of the central fruits of a well-lived Lent is joy. Joy comes from freedom from sin, clear and correct thinking, a deeper knowledge of God and His will, and further surrender of our lives to Him. But the path to that end might not be described as “fun.”

Fun, in the common use of the term, can be found in taking a vacation, engaging in a hobby, attending a party, or spending a good time with friends. Lent might be better analogized to giving birth to a child, studying for a final exam, or completing any arduous task. The end result of each will be some form of joy or satisfaction, but engaging in the actual task might not be immediately pleasurable.

We are a little more than halfway to Easter, and this is a good time to pause and consider how fruitful our Lenten journeys have been thus far. Fallen human nature is such that we often start out with good intentions, but then those good intentions begin to subside as we face the grueling work they require.

Lent is about repentance and conforming our will to God’s will. Repentance means we look honestly at sin, which is not pleasant. It’s like studying for a big exam. It takes work, commitment, determination, focus, and an open mind. It means we are open to discovering new things, making necessary changes to our lives, and suffering through those changes.

One of the best ways to persevere through the difficulties of Lent is by holding onto the hope of the joy that awaits. Easter is that joy. Easter is not only an event that took place two millennia ago; Easter is imminent and transformative for us today. The road to the joy of Easter is the hard work of Lent. Don’t lose your drive and determination this Lent. If you have begun to waver, use this middle point of Lent to reinvigorate your commitment.

Ponder again Jesus in the desert. Focus upon Him being only halfway through His forty days. At that point, He would have been quite tired, hungry, thirsty, hot, and uncomfortable. He did not let up. He saw the end of His forty days, and He saw the end of the three years of His public ministry that would follow. He knew that it all would lead to the joy of His Resurrection. That joy drove Him forward with unwavering resolve to fulfill the Father’s will. Seek to do the same.

Lord of hope and joy, You endured the sufferings of the desert and the sufferings of Your Cross because You knew they would end in glory and in the salvation of many souls. May I be among those “many” who seek to follow You, carrying my cross, allowing You to transform my life, and engaging in the hard work of the purification of my soul. My life is Yours, dear Lord; lead me through the rest of this “desert” of Lent. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Twenty-Two: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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