Lent is almost over. We are nearly there…and in some ways, the joy of Easter still feels so far away.
I had lots of plans for Lent this year. We have done our prayers and filled more than one box with food for the food pantry…all good things. But Lent has been HARD this year. The sacrifices we’ve each chosen (fasting from social media through the day, giving up desserts, giving up video games) have not compared to the physical suffering we’ve endured for much of Lent. We have “done” Lent, and we’ve “lived” Lent.
Thinking about “doing” vs. “living” brought this verse to mind. We walk by the Spirit. That is not always comfortable, you know. Sometimes walking by the Spirit means we’re carrying some big crosses. Usually we think of this verse in terms of strength, the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, and “happy” feelings. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit as comforter, right? So we should “feel good” to live by and walk by the Spirit, right? Those crosses aren’t so heavy, right?
It has been physically taxing on the whole family to be sick this Lent. We’ve had colds, respiratory problems needing breathing treatments, fevers, pink eye, stomach bugs. The runny noses and coughs are back this week. We have attended Mass together as a family 1 time in 4 weeks, splitting up the others because one of us needed to be home with sick kids. We’ve tended to each other, nursed each other’s illness, gone for long periods without fresh groceries other than bananas and milk (staples!), eaten leftovers stretched into new meals more times than I can count. We’ve been exhausted. We’ve been up all hours of the nights, slept on the couch, done dozens of loads of laundry just this week.
It has been HARD.
And yet, together, Fence and I have cared for our family and each other, in love and patience. We’ve tended to Jesus in our midst. We’ve lived and walked in the Spirit. We’ve carried this cross, and we’ve patiently (well, mostly–we have definitely voiced our frustrations!) born the trials. We have lived suffering. (Granted: we’re still very aware that our suffering is little compared to the millions around the world with no access to health care, little food at all, no homes…and we’re daily praying for the less fortunate in the world. But this cross that we are bearing right now, it’s hard.)
The Spirit has given us the grace to carry the cross and endure the burden of suffering. We’ve been blessed by family and friends stopping by for company or with food. The Spirit is working in them, too–those acts of love on their part were like a breath of fresh air, a drink of cool water on a hot day. While I’m admittedly utterly frustrated with the lingering runny noses and coughs, I know that “this too shall pass” and I know that suffering, when offered in prayer to Jesus, can and does do good for the soul.
Inspiring, right? So, even with all these germs, and even though I joked the other day that we needed a bottle of bleach to pour over the house (only half-kidding…I am sanitizing every other day trying to keep ahead of these germs–Lysol wipes are my friend.), I am not losing hope. It may not make sense that we keep getting sick, but I do know that in Jesus, all things will work for the good. I’ve given these moments in prayer to Jesus, offered them up, and now I will rest, knowing that we will get healthy, and the sacrifices will be fruitful in God’s time. And that, my friends, is what makes sense. Giving it up to God, so our lives in the Spirit can be made new.
Just a few more days…and then we can rejoice in the newness of the Resurrection! (hopefully without blowing noses every ten minutes)