In case all of you Baptists weren’t aware, we recently entered into the season of Lent. Even though it’s probably less meaningful to me, a low-ish church Reformed guy, than it is to some of my more liturgical brothers and sisters, it’s still a time of the year during which I think it’s especially important to make a concerted effort to think well about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
There are a bunch of things we do during Lent to fix our gaze on Christ. We read Lenten devotionals, we spend a lot more time in the Gospels than we otherwise might, or we give up chocolate or something like it for forty days. To varying degrees, all of these things are probably really helpful regarding our own personal piety. All that notwithstanding, I know that for me, certain hymns always prove to be particularly prescient during this time.
I find myself listening almost exclusively to Page CXVI’s Lent to Maundy Thursday album during this just-shy-of-forty-day period (Lent to Maundy Thursday, that is). For some reason, it seems like music touches a piece of your soul in a much deeper or more meaningful way than other human pursuits. These lyrics especially caught me this week:
I love the Lord,
He chased my griefs away.
Despair no more,
And use this breath to pray.
This stanza is so constitutive of this time of the year. This time of year culminates in Jesus’s journey back to Jerusalem, the city for which He came and the city which, in turn, rejected Him. But of course, it wasn’t (isn’t) just Jerusalem. It’s New York, it’s LA, it’s Chicago, it’s Birmingham. It’s wherever fallen humans live. Even still, this is the same Lord and Christ who chased my griefs away, and who caused me to despair no more, and this is the same Lord who does that for everyone who’s joined to Him by faith.
Despite the fact that this Light was Light before men, we loved darkness more. Despite the fact that all that was made was made through Him, the crown of that creation rejected Him. Despite the fact that I laid palm leaves down one Sunday, the following week, I yelled, “Give me Barabbas!” and, “Crucify Him!” He came to take my nails, and I went to Calvary to drive them.
Despite all this, He chased my griefs away. Despite all this, I can despair no more, because He loved me first. He climbed up on that cross with my name in mind before I could ever love Him at all.
Lent is a heavy time, but it’s a joyful time. It forces us to reckon with our own sinfulness, but it also encourages us to look toward the Cross, where our sin was paid for, and toward the Resurrection, where we see our justification. Praise God for that.