Lent Isn’t for Everyone – knowing when to give up on self-deprivation

Lent isn’t for everyone. There are people who have lived with deprivation their whole lives, forced deprivation where someone has told them they’re worthless, and anything they’ve ever gained has been snatched from them because they’re told they’re underserving of anything good. As one person on Twitter said, Lent is not for such people.

For those who have suffered, who have been forcibly deprived, who have lived without all their lives – without anyone who cares for them, or without food and shelter, or without basic security and safety from one day to the next – for those who cannot give up anything for Lent because they have nothing left to give, the right thing to do for Lent is to let this season of self-deprival pass.

For people who live in deprivation, Jesus spoke these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19.)

This is good news, and there are people who need to focus on these words rather than feel they must find one more way to be deprived. They need to know God offers more than they could imagine, and that there is nothing wrong with enjoying this overflowing life in Jesus.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10.)

These are people who know about thieves in their lives. They don’t need to be reminded of how much has been taken. They need to know – intimately and deeply – God’s abundance that can never be taken away from them. They need to know God’s comfort, and learn that it is not only right but good to rest in that comfort.

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God. …

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. …

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:1, 11, 29-31.)

This comfort is the work God calls you to carry out as well.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)

If you observe Lent by doing without, blessings upon you. And if you see someone who cannot do without, please bless them as well by encouraging them to enjoy God’s blessings in their life. Pray they will experience them abundantly.

Spiritual abundance, physical abundance, relational abundance. There are people who need these right now, and they should not feel guilt for being unable to give up one more thing for Lent. They’ve been deprived long enough.

May they now thrive and celebrate and exult and be happy.

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13 Responses to Lent Isn’t for Everyone – knowing when to give up on self-deprivation

  1. Linn says:

    I don’t observe Lent because my salvation is complete in Jesus’ death on the cross. Nothing I could ever begin to do could ever add to that. So, I observe Lent in a different way–daily contemplation and thankfulness for the miracle of salvation, for the depths to which He suffered, and meditations on Scripture passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. This keeps me thankful, humble and not taking salvation for granted. It is indeed a gift!

  2. Kathy Heisleman says:

    Just lovely Tim! Kind words for all of us who were deprived and unloved. Instead of introspecting on my pain I will look ahead to the cross & be overwhelmed, not by my inadequacy but by the overwhelming love the Father has for me.

    “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
    12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
    Psalm 30:11-12

  3. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is great, Tim. If we want to prepare our hearts for Easter there are lots of ways to do that without giving things up or doing without. It’s ok to feast instead of fast, if that’s what draws us closer to God during this time.

  4. Rosemari Simmons says:

    This means so much to me right now; thank you for posting it, Tim. The last few years have been excruciating in ways physical & emotional, & spiritual. To gift to God one more thing when I’m already being sustained on simple air would be too much. He has indeed called me into a season of rejoicing & celebrating whenever I can now – – because I’m mourning in seeming-Exile here. O Come, O Come, Emanuel. Rejoice, Rejoice, Emanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

  5. Rosemari Simmons says:

    @Tim: thankfully it is “sacred air” (πνεῦμα); which is substantial! 🙂

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