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Journey through the wilderness

By Dinah Dutta, chaplain

The season of Lent is a journey that we take with God for the 40 days before Easter.

In the Bible, Jesus goes out into the wilderness for 40 days, where he wrestles with faith and doubt, “tempted by Satan.” A year ago, we too started our wilderness journey because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We still continue that journey. In 2020, those of us who waited to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday were disappointed. Our journey through the wilderness did not end up in a joyful celebration. However, though 500,000 in the U.S. and thousands more all over the world lost their lives, we survived and continue to walk together to finish the journey. Yes, we will finish the journey. You may ask when, but we do not have an answer yet.

Forty days of being tested and tempted in the wilderness. At the end of it, Jesus emerges. We are journeying toward Easter this year once again. But to get to Easter, we have to go through the cross and the tomb. We are asked to go into a wilderness place and prepare ourselves for the journey of discipleship. Lent asks us to wrestle with the hard stuff: to pray, to fast, and to do something new. It’s not easy. If we choose to make this wilderness journey, we may discover something meaningful along the way. We’ve often been in the wilderness, but now we’ve found that we’re not alone. That’s good news, because the reality of our lives is that we spend a lot of time lost. We spend a lot of time facing temptation and wrestling with God, a lot of time alone with our demons. Jesus knew what that was like. So we have the opportunity to take this journey not alone, but with one who has been there before.

Have you ever had a hard time with faith? Jesus knew what that was like. Do you struggle to make hard choices? So did Jesus. Are you grieving? Jesus grieved, too. Are you preparing yourself for something new, something you don’t know how you are going to survive? Jesus knew what that was like, too.

I’m convinced that when we go through these wilderness times, God looks at us with nothing but compassion and love. Sometimes our wilderness places can do more than challenge us. They can change us. Sometimes we have to get lost before we find the beauty that surrounds us. It can take going to the hard places, the desolate places, the painful places, for us to find joy. We are journeying through a wilderness path right now. Let’s do it together. And even if it means going farther into this wilderness, even if we feel more lost than ever, let’s follow the one who has been here before. He might not lead us down easy paths, but he will never lead us astray. May the peace of the Lord be with you!

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