Joy in Lent
In that day you will say: “I will praise you O LORD. Although you were angry with me your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:1-2)
This chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful hymn of joy.
Joy in the middle of Lent? Is that right? Certainly, in light of God’s entire revelation!
In our society of “Jesus is my buddy,” it is rare to hear the sentiment that God is angry with us. God has become more of a teddy bear, or a servant to our wants and needs, than the source of fear this verse reveals. In sharp contrast, God’s Word is unequivocal concerning sin: It brings death (Romans 6:23a). Death is certainly something to be feared.
In spite of our society’s taming of God, people still experience God’s alien work (Isaiah 28:21), which is to bring sinners to repentance through the hammer of the law. Often, this hammer blow is felt as a natural result of our rebellion against God.
We have met many people here on the Navajo reservation who have suffered as a result of domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse. Even if such people have no fear of God, they experience His alien work in their lives and are crying out for comfort. Comfort is what God promises (Isaiah 40:1), through the forgiveness of sins, by the work of His suffering servant (Isaiah 53: 11). Yes, God’s anger is real concerning sin, but His suffering servant has canceled the power of sin.
Even in the middle of the somber reflection of Lent, there is room for joy!
Children are often unhindered by social pressures and are able to express their feelings better than adults. One of the children of our congregation, who was recently baptized, asked her mother, “Can we go to church every day?" When we have the comfort of God, and the joy of knowing that He is our salvation, we want to live in that love and peace every day.
Lord God, I praise you that you have turned your anger away from me, and you have placed it on your Suffering Servant. Grant me joy this day in knowing that you are my salvation, and you promise comfort. Amen.