Bless the Lent We Actually Have
by author Kate Bowler
This week: “Blessed Are Those Who Suffer”
Someone’s calling from the desert.
Someone’s calling from the sea.
Someone’s calling from the mountain.
Someone’s calling from the va-a-ally.
Chorus: Messi——–ah, Messiah, come and be our King. (2x)
Someone’s calling from the city:
I am young, I am cold.
Someone’s calling from the country:
I am lonely, I am old. (Chorus)
Someone’s shouting, I am broken.
Someone’s shouting, make me whole.
Someone’s shouting, come and change me.
Someone’s shouting, save my soul. (Chorus 2x)
Theme of the week: The grand paradox of our humanity is that the life of faith is not void of pain and suffering. But present too are joy, peace, and love. Our problems or pain or suffering does not mean we are outside of God’s love… just that we are human, again today. And, lucky for us, we have a God who understands what it means to suffer intimately and promises to never leave our side, so we can learn to suffer in hope.
Bible reading: Romans 5:1-11
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely, therefore, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Bible reading: Psalm 56
1Have mercy on me, O God, for people are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.
2My enemies hound me all the day long; truly there are many who fight against me from high ground.
3Whenever I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?
5All day long they damage my cause; their only thought is to do me harm.
6They band together; they lie in wait; they spy upon my footsteps; because they seek my life.
7Deliver them over to trouble; O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.
8You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book?
9Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight; this I know, for God is on my side.
10In God, whose word I praise; in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can mortals do to me?
12I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; I will present to you thank-offerings;
13for you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
Readings: From The Lives We Actually Have; 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie
- “For when it is too much to handle” (p108)
- “For this overwhelming day” (p90)
Reflecting on the readings
You are invited to quietly reflect on the readings by using the following activities, or you may silently meditate on the bible readings or spend time journaling reflections on the texts.
Reread Psalm 56 and make a list of all the emotions the psalmist describes (there are a LOT!). Good, bad, or otherwise, which of these feelings are resonating with you most today? Ask God to meet you there, in those feelings, to heal what needs healing and to help you to find what is holy in them.
Reflect: How has God met you in times when you have been suffering? What do you need from God right now?
Pray the breath prayer below for yourself, sensing the truth of your situation, and the peace that comes when it is fully acknowledged and shared. Then turn your thoughts to someone else who may be feeling lonely, and pray the breath prayer for that person. Sit awhile calmly with the awareness of their situation. Perhaps something will come to mind as to how you could reach out to them.
Inhale: God, turn to me and be gracious to me,
Exhale: for I am lonely and afflicted.
Inhale: Relieve the troubles of my heart,
Exhale: and free me from my anguish.
Make a list of the people, places, circumstances in your life and in the lives of your family, friends, and community that are aching for restoration, or where there has been suffering or struggle. Pray the words of Numbers 6:24-26 over your list—if you have the extra time, do it name by name. (E.g., “The Lord bless and keep _________. The Lord’s face shine upon __________, and be gracious to ___________. The Lord look upon _____________, and give ___________ peace.”)
Song: Go in Peace (The X-es below indicate claps)
May Lord Jesus bless and keep you in his love.
May he stand beside you daily, dusk to dusk.
May he guide you through the night, in him we trust,
And lead us forth into the light. (repeat from beginning)
So go in peace. (X X) Serve the Lord your God with love,
Remembering God will be with you all until the e-e-end.
Let’s go in peace. (X X) Serve the Lord your God with love,
Remembering God will be with us all until the end.