Our first weekend in Lent and journeying together in the Lent Devotional for Women. I thought as part of our Daily Devotions for Lent we would spend a little time with this verse from Mark, “Have a good heart, it is I, fear ye not.” (Mark 6:50) Another translation reads, “Calm down! It’s me. Don’t be afraid!” (GWT) Not only is this lovely encouragement from our Lord’s lips to our ears, it’s also encouragement or a daily affirmation we can repeat to ourselves on a daily basis. Can you imagine the boost in spirits we would get by telling ourselves, “Calm down Jenny.” Or, “I am not afraid!”
The world is not going to encourage us. A few people in our world may, but as a whole, not only will the world not encourage us, it may even discourage us. We can use the dailiness of life to encourage ourselves by repeating, “Have a good heart.” Or “Calm down, don’t be afraid.” And depending on the circumstance, we can imagine these words either coming from our Lord or from us. Either way, this Lent Devotional for Women focuses on being our own cheerleader or at least regulator. But cheerleader sounds way more fun!
The first baby I had without an epidural was my third. As I was intensely laboring through Pitocin induced contraction after Pitocin induced contraction, I would vocally tell myself as I lay gripping the bed rail, “You’re ok. You can do this.” Every contraction turned into an opportunity to encourage myself with those two simple sentences because labor is scary…and hard. Life is scary…and hard. And although I had great nurses and Chris, I knew what I needed to hear most, so I said it to myself. We can’t expect others to cheer us on if we don’t do it ourselves. We also can’t expect others to understand our anger and fear, if we don’t at least try to as well.
In this Lent Devotional for Women, let me ask you, what have you been afraid of this week? Whoa! “Who said I was afraid?” you might ask. Stick with me ok. Years ago I read that many times, behind what looks like anger, might be actually fear, (this is especially true for men according to this report). So let me ask you again, “What have you been afraid of this week?” When you’ve responded with anger, was it honestly fear? Afraid of losing control, looking foolish, being judged, dreaming big (ahhh…), being used or unappreciated…I’ve acted out in anger this week over money and time–or lack of time. But from the outside looking in, my husband and children may not know it’s fear.
Here’s another question to think about in our Lent Devotional. Has there been a time this week when someone has acted angry at us and we’ve reacted, not responded? See, it’s easy to respond–anger to anger. But it’s just as easy to respond to fear with compassion and patience. Thinking back, could their anger have been fear driven? How could my reaction have been different if I considered them “afraid” verse “angry?” And please realize, there is a difference between reacting and responding. Responding is an act of the will, a decision to remain or behave in a certain way, regardless of the circumstances.
When I read that verse above, I think of our Lord telling me, “Fear not, it’s me. Have a good heart in this situation, or with this person.” When someone approaches me with anger or reacts to me in anger, if I can stop and see Christ in them, “It is I…” I am not saying an angry Christ, I am saying, if I can recognize that person was created in the image and likeness of Christ, maybe I can look past their angry emotions to love them as Christ loves them. Maybe knowing they might be afraid, but showing anger could make all the difference in the world in how I respond to them. I hope these devotions for Lent are challenging you, but also encouraging you.
Many times this Lent, we will see our sacrifices and mortifications are going to look very ordinary…holy ordinary. And yet they can be so powerful in transforming us in love this Lent. The sullen teen, the impatient toddler, the stressed husband, the rude person on the phone…each one of these people offers us a chance to practice BIG love, in a little way…for Christ.
Click here for all the Daily Devotions for Lent posts.