Hey Google: Is the desert cold?
That was the question I typed in this morning as I read through today’s Gospel about Jesus in the desert for forty days. You can tell where my brain is still at even as the snow has rapidly disappeared from our lawn.
Yesterday, I started separating out laundry for eventual washing. I came across the clothes I had worn while our power was out for a few days. I quickly separated a pair of fleece pants from a pair of pajama pants. I was then surprised to discover some yoga pants under the pajama pants. Thinking that was it, I shook out the yoga pants and was surprised once again by a pair of leg-length leg warmers and thick soccer socks falling out. “Dang,” I thought. “How cold was it in here?”
Four layers of pants and just as many layers of tops got me through a few days. Even my children layered up. Staring at this pile of clothes that now needs washing made me wonder, what did Jesus have on as he wandered the desert at night? What kept him warm when the sun no longer heated the earth and the temperature fell? Certainly he wasn’t lugging around layers.
On Friday, I joined an online prayer group started by Becky Eldredge several months ago. We were led in a Litany of Mercy by Sarah Kotlinski. In the litany’s repetitive lines, I found myself challenged to think about how little I am willing to suffer. Line after line had us praying for mercy for all the times we chose ourselves and our comfort over the bigger picture in front of us.
We read this prayer as I was once again enjoying heat, internet, and just one layer of clothing. We read this prayer after I had already declared I had “suffered enough!” for Lent. Then, today, as I read the second reading and Gospel, I was reminded of just how much Jesus was willing to suffer for me.
So why am I not willing to do the same for Him?
I don’t know if I’ll give anything specific up this Lent, but I do know that Jesus is nudging me to be realistic about my “suffering”. He is inviting me to try be empathetic the real suffering of others around me. And He is inviting me to find a way to lesson someone else’s suffering this Lent.
What is He inviting you to?