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Lent | Fasting: Day

A holy endurance

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Today's Text: Hebrews 12:3-13

Text: Hebrews 12:3-13

“Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges.”
– the editors of Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

When we are called into a time of fasting – whether physical or spiritual – we are called into a time of nearness to the Lord. Yet, as romantic as it sounds, this drawing near can be difficult, even excruciating. Yes, the surpassing joy of the Lord is there, indeed. But pain is often there, too. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Reading this passage from Hebrews 12 in the context of Lent, I imagine the spiritual discipline of fasting as a literal loosening of our grip on sin. Long and slow, it is the painful opening of our heart and our hands so tightly wrapped  around our sin and self-sufficiency.

If Lent means “springtime” and “renewal,” it must be in part because we come to it as barren trees at the end of winter, stripped down and empty, desperate hands reaching to the sky, searching for sun, searching for life.

In this moment of purest need we are exposed and utterly vulnerable, broken so that Christ may enter into the deepest heart of our hearts.

The enduring is hard work and yet holy. It hurts, but we carry on because we know God’s love is sure. We know His faithfulness is real. We know our most intense sufferings can’t compare with His. And we know that He endured those sufferings for the love of us.

He endured for the countless times we would come home, empty and broken.
He endured to turn the harsh winter into a promise.
He endured to bring springtime to our cold, dead hearts.

He endured so that we can endure, by His boundless grace.

Praise be to God.

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  • LONG DISTANCE RUNNERS WORK HARD TO BUILD ENDURANCE AND STRENGTH . ON RACE DAY, THEIR CLOTHES ARE LIGHTWEIGHT AND THEIR BODIES LEAN. TO RUN THE RACE THAT GOD HAS SET BEFORE US, WE MUST ALSO STRIP OFF THE EXCESS WEIGHT THAT SLOWS US DOWN. HOW CAN WE DO THAT. 1 CHOOSE FRIENDS WHO ARE ALSO COMMITTED TO THE RACE. WRONG FRIENDS WILL HAVE VALUES AND ACTIVITIES THAT MAY DETER YOU FROM THE COURSE. MUCH OF YOUR OWN WEIGHT MAY RESULT FROM THE CROWD YOU RUN AROUND WITH. MAKE WISE CHOICES. 2 DROP CERTAIN ACTIVITIES. THAT IS, FOR YOU AT THIS TIME THESE MAY BE WEIGHT. . TRY DROPPING THEM FOR A WHILE, THEN CHECK THE RESULTS IN YOUR LIFE… 3 GET HELP FOR ADDICTIONS THAT DISABLE YOU. IF YOU HAVE A SECRET "WEIGHT" SUCH AS PORNOGRAPHY, GAMBLING OR ALCOHOL, ADMIT YOUR NEED AND GET HELP TODAY. RUN , AND ENDURE. EVERYTHING THAT IS WORTHLESS AND SINFUL WILL BE CONSUMED B Y THE FIRE OF HIS WRATH. ONLY WHAT IS GOOD AND DEDICATED TO GOD, AND RIGHTEOUS WILL REMAIN. GOD BLESS LADIES…

  • rachlea06

    I needed to read that passage from Hebrews. I adore my dad, and one of the biggest reasons is because he had high standards and expected discipline in me. I didn't always understand his demands at the time, but it was all for my own good. God's demands are the same. On days when His way is a struggle because my sinful nature stands stubbornly in the way, I need to stop and realize that God's demands of me are for my own well-being!

  • dearlyl0ved

    I love how the author of Hebrews compares the discipline of God to the discipline of earthly fathers. I know for a lot of people that brings to mind bad memories, but we are talking about DISCIPLINE, not PUNISHMENT. Punishment is harsh, discipline is loving. Discipline is necessary to be a disciple! :)

  • SRT and everyone else's blogs have been SO huge in helping me in my walk with Christ this season. Today, I sat alone with God and asked that He'd change my heart– that instead of being tired and antsy about getting my bible study "done" so that I could get on with my day (it's so sad that it becomes that in my heart at times!), He'd give me a heart that lept for joy at the sound of His name. Boy, was He faithful! The Lord blessed me abundantly with so much truth. As I started to get antsy to stop bible studying so that I could have a hold on my life, He firmly told me, "AnnaLee, why won't you just let God be faithful?! You keep exchanging his truth and goodness for things so much less! Let him prove Himself faithful!" After that, I layed back and truly enjoyed time with Him.

    "The enduring is hard work and yet holy. It hurts, but we carry on because we know God’s love is sure. We know His faithfulness is real. We know our most intense sufferings can’t compare with His. And we know that He endured those sufferings for the love of us."

    Girls, please pray for me! My lent includes fasting from a meal of the day and from eating when I'm bored– I'm trying to focus more on eating only beneficial things, eating with my family, and eating unto God instead. I get hangry at times when I'm not focused in Christ… pray that I'd step back from moments of being hangry and would only rely upon Him. This is a new thing for me… and while it's hard, I've never felt so reliant upon Christ.

    • Jenny

      I will pray for you…… Most interesting blog……. There are times in my life when I too would rather watch tv. Then read my Bible, but ever since I have been reading SRT-I can't wait to read the Bible……

    • Brendasan01

      I too, will pray for you AnnaLee. Your posts always encourage me and it will be a privilege for me to lift you up in prayer. May The Lord bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you.

  • JessicaLoves___

    I am so curious about this "peaceful" fruit of righteousness. I presume it is referring to the fact that it can bring peace to those who obey. That while discipline is painful, and therefore seemingly unwanted, it comes with an amazing reward. I have to think this sense of peace relates somewhat to being (as a southerner) taught to say "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am", etc. As a kid, these words seemed humiliating — that we had to submit to our parents and other adults in this way. And so, you naturally resist complying (or at least I did, and I've seen this courtesy drilled into a number of kids since). But somewhere along the way, saying these words became natural. In fact, I realized one day in college when someone pointed it out, that I was saying these phrases without even knowing it. And now, I'm glad that, although I live in Indiana where nobody talks that way, those terms of respect are part of my natural vocabulary. They're just part of who I am. And that does give me a sense of peace because this discipline reminds me and tells others who I am.
    I pray that my spiritual disciplines – followed somewhat out of knowing I should do them – will just become more and more a part of who I am. And that one day I'll fully understand the peace that comes with the fruit of righteousness.

    • AnnaLee

      "They're just part of who I am. And that does give me a sense of peace because this discipline reminds me and tells others who I am." Amen, Jessica. I pray that through this lent season, as we sometimes struggle with what we've given up (or struggle with focusing on what we've added on), we'd be encouraged that this is God preparing us for Himself and for the good works He has planned for us ahead. It will all become a part of who we are. Hallelujah.

    • Christina

      That peaceful fruit of righteousness intrigued me, as well, Jessica! I began praying, "Lord, how much "later" (according to the ESV) does this peaceful fruit show up? I don't think I have it. I may need you to send me some pain!" OK, well, maybe I'd really rather not pray for pain, but I want to live my life within that peaceful fruit. I realized yesterday, after reading and praying through this passage and then applying it to my day with my kids that adhering to the discipline that He has already enacted upon us takes our reliance upon His Spirit and our willingness to fight… fight to remember what He has shown us is true in His Word, fight to withstand temptation by the Spirit's power, fight to speak His truth to ourselves in the midst of the trying moments. In that fight, armed with God's full armor (Eph. 6) and the power of the Spirit, is peace and discipline. :)

  • Rachel Nordgren

    Hebrews 12:12 is such a rich, encouraging exhortation…"Therefore! Lift your drooping hands, strengthen your weak knees! Make straight paths for your feet! Let what is lame be healed!" (paraphrased). The writer is pushing us towards an active faith, and I love it.

    With spring starting to whisper itself into the corners of Kansas, I found myself getting really, really excited about verse 11. Reminding myself that God disciplines through the barren winter in order to bring a beautiful springtime and a bountiful harvest.

    Lent is about pruning away our dead growth, allowing God to cut away the things that hinder our relationship with Him. Pruning is painful, but new growth can't happen without it!

  • Shannonwe

    verse 4 really stuck out to me: 'In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." What a reminder that we are not perfect like Jesus and very deserving of the Lord's disciplines!

  • Thank you for sharing this! Just the confirmation I needed. The start of this lenten season has been so hard for me. Glad to know its apart of the process!

  • Beautiful imagery and stunning truth! Thank you. My winter weary soul needed this today.

  • heathermkneisler

    "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but it later yields the peaceful truth of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." We must be broken, so He can enter in. Love this reminder not to grow weary. Thank you!

  • Wow! I am so blessed by reading each and everyone of these comments. They are an additional devotion to me. I receive so much love and encouragement through your words. I am a new reader to SRT and I can't begin each day without having my prayer/devotional time with SRT.

  • debirussell

    I too, like several others here am giving up social media. I have often felt that my biggest distraction from worship is the people I love and enjoy. It is easy for me to draw near to them, when I hurt or feel discouraged, insteadof drawing near to God's word. After the last study on God's word at SRT I knew for Lent I wanted to remove myself from those ever present connections to people that keep me away from the true source of life. It is such an encouragement to realize that Christ has endured all on my behalf so that I have the ability to "approach the throne of grace and find mercy," not judgement.

    Also I enjoyed reading several of the blogs from yesterday's post on Psalm 130. Love to see so many women seeking the Lord and bringing him glory through their writing.

  • "Jesus never lost sight of the goal" No matter what circumstances, trials, temptations, rejection, and even when he took on our sins, he never lost sight of the Father and where He was going. Paul, David, Job, John, never lost sight either. And they are all a part of the cheering squad in heaven cheering us on to fight, and to fight to win. My suffering is nothing compared to what these great men of God endured, and especially what Jesus endured for me and you on that cross.
    I pray that God gives me the courage to endure all that Satan and this life will throw in my path during this journey, and that my focus always remains on the prize, eternity with my Lord and Savior.

  • Hi ladies, this really confirmed in how I approached lent this year. I have actually never practiced lent before but I wanted to this year, but as I thought about what to give up I found myself just searching of things, or ideas, things more of what to "do" for lent as Amanda described at the beginning. However I realized God is not concerned of what I give up but my heart of it, so rather I am drawing closer to him in his word these 40 days and how a reminder this post was that yes lent is this! I am looking forward to the springtime he has in store for each of us through this.

  • SweetDes

    I love how The Message breaks down a portion of Hebrews 12:4-11 MSG
    ….. My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline, but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live?…….

    My path seems difficult right now but I'm so trusting God through it! I'm learning (not there yet) how to embrace my situation knowing that God will never leave me alone.

    • tina

      Will be praying for you SweetDes…..hold fast to Him, who knows the plans He has for you….sending you a big Tina hug and love….x

  • This scripture is really speaking to me today. I am in a season of mourning (as some of you may know, I lost my first baby a few weeks ago). It is tempting to lose sight of the big picture…to feel abandoned, resentful, or full of self-pity. But I truly feel that I am drawing closer to my Father, as He is the only one who knows the deep cries of my heart. What else can I do but place myself in his hands and lean completely on Him. I feel exactly like that barren tree with cold limbs outstretched to receive grace from the Almighty…such a beautiful metaphor. Thanks ladies for letting me share my heart this morning and for sharing yours as well. Prayers and love for each of you xo

    • SweetDes

      Praying for your restoration! Keep holding on!

    • Shelia

      My prayers are with you Ali.

    • tina

      Ali….I know and feel your pain, But God….trust Him, He does know the cries of your heart…He has you in His arms…He is the restorer…. and He is faithful…pray I.g for you to know His peace and loving arms around you….x x x

    • JessicaLoves___

      Thanks for sharing, Ali. What a painful time this must be for you. Drawing closer to God is exactly what you need right now, although it's certainly tempting to question him. Will lift you up in prayer today.

    • Candacejo

      So heartbroken for you Ali…I have never walked that road but I know a God who can help you. Praying He will wrap you in His arms today and give you sweet peace. ♥

    • journeyingwithhim

      Ali, I just wanted to let you know that I have continued to pray for you since reading your posting a few weeks ago.

    • Ali

      Wow…you all blow me away. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your concern, love, and especially your prayers. I feel them all!! xoxo

  • The idea that Lenten season is like a fresh spring makes so much sense to to me today. After the very harsh winter we have had this year here in mi (yesterday was our first warm day 40 degrees felt like 70 to us yesterday.) the thought of fresh new warm made me feel so renewed like good things could happen again I felt a sense of letting go almost being free so that is what lent will forever remind me of letting go of the harsh sins of winter and starting fresh. Be blessed today ladies

    • Rachel Nordgren

      Amen, Kelda! Kansas' winter has been blistering, and yesterday it was 60…and it. was. GLORIOUS. The thought of spring…fresh, warm, blooming spring…is a huge encouragement to me, too, right now!

  • It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed,, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lam 3:23) Because the Lord loves us, he chastens us, but he doesn't consume us; he disciplines, but he doesn't destroy. Unbelief causes us to look at God through our circumstances, and this creates hopelessness; but faith enables us to look at our circumstances through the reality of God, and this gives us hope. Thank you Jesus. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God (Psalms 42:1). Praise be to God.

  • wiscogurl

    This lesson today challenged me to approach Lent in a different way. I considered this season similar to what a kid might when her favorite doll is taken away! Pitiful, huh? Like you Amanda, I'm fasting from social media. I never realized how much time I dedicated to all those outlets. Even subconsciously, I found myself snapping photos or commenting on different things… Which left God where? Getting the leftovers! The Lord really spoke to my heart and this is my fast.

    I must proceed and look to Lent as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to receive my harvest! Lord, I welcome your discipline!

    • SweetDes

      I too, have given up social media and did not realize how much time I was drawn to it. Not only drawn to it but longed for it. I'm do glad this has been exposed during this Lenten season.

  • I LOVE this. It was perfect for today! I've never "given up" anything for Lent until this year, when I decided to give up Facebook. It had been something on my heart and I had tried to give it up for my new year's resolution with little success. I love how the passage speaks of this being encouraging, and discipline later produces a HARVEST, and even encourages us to make level paths for our feet. I found that so inspiring and encouraging as I struggle with the day-to-day sins I've committed and the opportunities I face to sin again-in all aspects of life. It's great to think of this all as discipline, and that our God LOVES us and we are his children, therefore he disciplines us. I also found it quite powerful reading verse 4, a reminder where we have not struggled to the point of shedding blood as Jesus did for OUR sins! Thank you so much for She Reads Truth ladies!

    • Rachel Nordgren

      Love it! Springtime leads to Harvest!

    • Sana'

      I am in the same boat! This is also my first time giving up something for lent and I chose facebook. To know that another sister is going this is very encouraging. :)

  • This is simply beautiful. My husband and I were just discussing the post from Jessi at Naptime Diaries http://www.naptimediaries.com/2014/03/the-first-d… about how we can't EARN God's favor through anything we give up or add onto our lives for Lent. It is ALWAYS about drawing near and worshiping the one who has already accomplished everything for us though the cross. If we make it about anything else, we've created an idol in our self-righteousness and are not worshiping the one whose work is complete and more than enough.

  • Joanne Sher

    Lord, let me endure with a grateful heart, remembering all You have endured for me. Let me loosen my grip on my sin, so You can come in.

  • moebattle

    A Holy Endurance
    If Lent means “springtime” and “renewal,” it must be in part because we come to it as barren trees at the end of winter, stripped down and empty, desperate hands reaching to the sky, searching for sun, searching for life.
    In this moment of purest need we are exposed and utterly vulnerable, broken so that Christ may enter into the deepest heart of our hearts.
    "We cry too often to be delivered from the punishment, instead of the sin that lies behind it. We are anxious to escape from the things that cause us pain rather than from the things that cause God pain" -G. Campbell Morgan

  • Christina

    As I have read this morning, I've been seriously convicted about the way I've begun interacting with and responding to my kids. I am one crabby, crabby mama. It is as if my precious blessings have become an inconvenient burden, and this breaks my heart. Because I well know that they are not a burden to be avoided (while, yes, there is very little "convenient" about being a parent!). I want to embrace this time that I have with them, not send them off in 10 years, remembering a mama who was never happy with them.

    In that light, and in light of Lent being a time from which to emerge repentant and empowered by the Spirit, to loosen my grip on this sin to which I cling, I affirm with Hebrews 12:13 that I am lame and need to be healed. I desire the peaceful fruit of righteousness that comes from the training of the Lord's discipline. It will be painful, but I need it. I'm desperate for it.

    • AnnaLee

      God honors that prayer, Christina! Praying that He would chasten your heart and make you cling to Him more this season. It's hard to admit that we are broken and in need of grace, but it's also so refreshing. May He grow an abundance of spiritual fruit in you the more you seek Him.

  • megkwhit

    First, thank you to everyone who posted a devotional yesterday I loved reading them!! I love that we can all read the same verses and have different takes on it, and yet we are all right!

    God will carry me through anything! I am no a huge fan of the way this passage is written, it seems more condemning than loving to me, but Amanda's devotional broke open what it was trying to say. I can remember a few times when my heart was opened, and it was a flood of emotion, guilt, joy, but also pain. God seeks to be in our hearts, always, and sometimes it really hurts to let him in. But other days it is the best feeling in the world to know that he is there. God, I love you.

    • AnnaLee

      Amen to that, Meg! "God seeks to be in our hearts, always, and sometimes it really hurts to let him in. But other days it is the best feeling in the world to know that He is there." Each day of bible study is never the same. Some days, like today, I sit and soak up all God has for me, and I walk out changed and renewed, on top of the world… other times, I'm filled with distractions and frustration, but I make myself go through it anyway, submitting myself to God, because I know it will grow spiritual fruit in me in the long run. It hurts to let Christ in sometimes– to have him reprimand and discipline us– but I'm so glad that I do, in the long run.

  • Who the Lord loves he chasens. Many times we complain about our circumstances, we buckle under the pressures we face. But these tests and trials are often times orchestrated by God himself. We need however to remember our struggles are NOTHING compared to what the Lord endured. He endured the worst so that we now can endure the least.

    Have you ever imagined if every sinner had to die the death Christmas died. I think I would die before being nailed to the cross.

    We are so blessed that by grace we have been saved from the worst. After studying Psalm 130 yesterday waiting and enduring should be a much more comfortable season in our lives. Ladies I trust that we all have been blessed and that we will endure, wait and hope till the Lord comes.

  • In this moment of purest need we are exposed and utterly vulnerable, broken so that Christ may enter into the deepest heart of our hearts……

    I need…then.. to be exposed, I need then…to be utterly vulnerable, I need then…to be broken, so that Christ may enter into the deepest heart of my heart….

    Lord, I come longing …..Lord I come arms stretched…..Lord I come ……

    Lord, thank you for ENDURING for the countless times we would come home, empty and broken.
    Lord thank you for ENDURING to turn the harsh winter into a promise.
    Lord, thank you for ENDURING to bring springtime to our cold, dead hearts.
    Thank you Lord for ENDURING so that we can endure, by Your boundless grace.
    Lord, I come longing, to be worthy of your ENDURING, for me…..yet though I fall, so very short…you still hold out your arms to me, in love, Grace, mercy, forgiveness…….Lord I pray this Lenten time will draw me closer to the One who gave it all, that I might have it all……
    Thank you Lord, for everything and always….AMEN x

    Blessed Sisters thank you so very much for yesterday and all the different takes on Psalm 130, amazing, God so so amazing, so divine…..you all spoke to me in beautiful ways….Thank you…I pray God turn His face to shine on each and every one of you and yours….Blessings, always Tina x xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Rachel Nordgren

      Thank you, Tina!!!

    • Sue:)

      Tina, I am so glad that you are usually one of the very first comments, because I so treasure your heartfelt reflections. You are truly a blessing to me! Thank you. xx

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