Yesterday, I provided music for our church’s Ash Wednesday service. The Ash Wednesday service is always for me an incredibly moving experience. The Lenten season in Christendom is one of introspection and self-examination, endured with the hope of a beautiful awakening – Easter – soon to come.
Isaiah 58 calls the Israelites to fast and mourn in repentance for their evil ways. It’s a chapter full of reprimands and rebukes (the “stick”), and Isaiah instructs his listeners that they must fast to show their sorrow and repentance. Yet about half-way through, Isaiah brings out the “carrot,” and oh what a carrot it is:
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Isaiah 58:8-9 (NIV)
This passage to me is the perfect parallel to the Lenten season. We endure a period of self-examination to purge our lives of anything not from and of God, which allows our “light [to] break forth like the dawn, and [our] healing will quickly appear.”
There is a light at the end of the Lenten tunnel.