Lent is about making space for the resurrection by getting rid of that which impedes our relationship with Christ. At its most fundamental, this is sin –and therefore the Lenten invitation is, first and foremost, to repentance – to turn from our idolatry and self-centeredness to embrace the Lordship of Christ.
But Lent can also be an invitation to lament – to weep – and in the process of weeping, let go of the grief that obscures our vision of God as we invite Him to speak into our places of greatest pain.
In Psalm 126, we’re told that “those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” I’m guessing that the Psalmist intended this to mean that those who sow seeds while weeping will later reap while rejoicing. However, I’ve always read this passage a little differently: rather than picture a person sprinkling seeds, I see a woman walking along sowing tears. Her tears are the seeds that fall to the ground and give birth to a harvest of joy. Her weeping is that which leads to new life.
Read this way, this scripture communicates something that I think our culture has forgotten: namely, that weeping is productive. It isn’t pointless. It serves a purpose.
Weeping creates space for new faith to emerge in the wake of disappointment and for the consolation of the Holy Spirit to come into places of grief. In our weeping, we release to God all the cares and concerns we’ve been carrying. We lay them out before Him – where they rightly belong – and recognize that we weren’t intended to be mules weighed down by sorrow. We were designed to be vessels of His love and grace.
But we can’t be vessels of love and grace if we’re clogged with disappointment, anger, grief or sorrow. Those things get in the way – impeding our ability to receive God’s love and thus inhibiting our capacity to love and serve others. That’s why we need to weep more readily and more often. When we empty ourselves of accumulated sorrow, we create space for an infilling of God’s love that we can then pour out on others. Emptied of our own burdens, we’re free to come alongside others and help carry their loads.
That’s why I’m so grateful for this season of Lent — because in Lent, we’re given the space to reflect, to weep, and to let go.
So on Wednesday, remember that ashes are not only a sign of human frailty but a symbol of mourning; and over the next forty+ days, ask God if there’s anything you need to grieve. The Holy Spirit will illumine the burdens we need to release as we spend time with God in this season ahead. And, if we let Him, He will teach us how to weep – and that weeping will sow seeds of resurrection joy.