Do you watch “This is Us” on television? I must confess to being rather “hooked” on this program. “All the feels,” as my daughter says, with its gritty portrayal of the lives of its main characters.
With the characters, we’ve witnessed many endings.
Randall’s birth father dying, and Randall quitting his job.
His brother, Kevin, walking out of his hit TV show.
Their sister, Kate, attending and then dropping out of weight camp.
Randall’s birth father, William, leaving his music career behind to care for his mother in her final illness.
Our lives are full of endings.
Graduation -- the end of high school and life as a child, becoming independent of our parents.
Leaving a job, or retiring from a career.
Marriage, the end of life as one person, the end of an individual endeavor.
Birth, the end of pregnancy, the end of life as it was before birth.
And death, the end of this earthly life.
So many endings.
Lent reflects life.
It is a time of endings.
We fast, we abstain, we reconcile, to end the life that was -- the old life, the sinful self.
Lent focuses our attention on the end of Jesus’s earthly life.
It was the end -- of His time with His apostles, His public ministry.
This time is all about “The End.”
Endings are sad. It means something is no more.
Yet endings can be sources of joy.
Each ending holds the hope of a new beginning. (More about that another time!)
Perhaps that’s why we are told so many times in the Bible, “Be not afraid.” According to some sources, the phrases “fear not” or “be not afraid” appear in Scripture 365 times, though the number and translations are debated. Regardless, the Lord tells His people from the Old Testament through the New to be encouraged, not to fear, because He is with us, and He is for us.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Mark 6:50).
As He told His apostles, He tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Lent prepares us to leave the past behind, to end what was -- our sinful selves -- and to hope for a new beginning, to be made new through Christ.
Be not afraid. We are walking through this desert, as Christ did, with Him at our side, preparing for an end, to be sure, but also preparing for a new beginning.
This is life. This is us.