“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. The day when a lot of people choose to “give up” something for the Lenten season.
What’s interesting to me is that most people, including myself, usually give up something that they know is bad for them. Something that has begun to have too much power and sway. Whether it’s coffee or chocolate, t.v. or technology, alcohol or annoying habits — we choose to give up (at least for the season) some behavior that has destructive power.
What’s also interesting to me is that a vast majority of the things “given up” have to do with the body. Not all, but the vast majority of the things “given up” for Lent have to do with how we are mistreating or not-honoring our bodies. Whether it is something we keep ingesting (as in food or drink), or something that keeps us stuck in unhealthy patterns (e.g. keeping us sedentary or compromised) … we tend to release things that hinder the potential of this gift of body.
This is interesting to me because it means that somewhere, deep down, we know that this body of ours — this one body we have been given — IS a gift from God that needs to be honored and cherished. Deep down, we know that it deserves better. Deep down, we know that God has given us something spectacular — that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) — and that we are not honoring the gift as we should.
And if we are not honoring the gift properly, we aren’t really honoring the Giver properly either.
Which leads to the second reason I find our Lenten habits interesting. When Jesus spent His 40 days fasting in the wilderness, it wasn’t to give up something that He was doing that He knew was bad for Himself. It was to prove His dependence on God alone. It was to prove that God alone was sufficient. Jesus didn’t need to look to anyone or anything else but to God alone. Even Satan didn’t have anything to offer Him that was better than what God had to offer! (See e.g. Luke 4:1-13). Jesus fasted in the wilderness because God alone was enough.
So when we choose today what to “give up,” may we choose not only to honor the gift by giving up something that harms it … but may honor the Giver by replacing it with the all-sufficiency of God. May we honor the gift and the Giver by trusting in His provision and power alone.