The forty day season of Lent has always been understood as a season of struggle since it has always been recognized as the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness of Judaea for forty days.  Jesus struggled in his time of fasting and temptation.  Yet through that time, he remained close to God as indicated by the way he challenged the Tempter with his quotations of the Scriptures.  This time of struggle forced Jesus to be centered in God.  

Like Jesus, our struggles can be opportunities for us to deepen our faith and relationship with God in ways that our successes cannot.  In success, we tend to focus on ourselves and our accomplishments.  In our failures and struggles we become poignantly aware of our frailty and limitations and we have the opportunity to shift the focus outside of ourselves to God. 

I just started reading a book that was recommended by my home pastor in Plano.  The book is entitled, “Gifts of the Dark Woods, Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics and Other Wanderers” by Eric Elnes. The theme of the book is that it is in the places of struggle and uncertainty that we can find God’s presence rather than on the Mountaintop.  He also argues that there are gifts or blessings we receive when we journey with Jesus through the valleys.  We are certainly walking through such a valley now.  While we may have to walk it, we don’t have to walk it alone.  If we trust in Him, Jesus walks it with us.  As uncomfortable as we may be with uncertainty, it can also be a time for spiritual growth in our faith and trust in Jesus.  I want to invite you to use this time to recognize Jesus’s presence with you in the struggle and to deepen in your love and commitment to Christ. 

Prayer:  O God we thank you that through Jesus you walk with us through the valleys of life.  Open our eyes to recognize your presence and remind us that we don’t have to be afraid because we don’t walk alone.  In Jesus name.  Amen.