It's upon us.

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. —2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, NIV

So many times I've read that passage and stopped thinking at "in troubles, hardships and distresses." What are my troubles? I'm set! All I have to do is weasel my way through another couple of months and the rest of my life is laid out for me.
Paul doesn't stop at trouble, though. He never does.
Lent is about endurance in all things. Paul works his way in this passage from tribulations and hardships to the tools of our victory; that's how fasting and reflection works. The body is sanctified, the mind is cleared. We are gradually prepared for that most awful event, when greatest suffering becomes greatest joy.

And here I am, complaining on my 'blog about being too distracted to read a few hundred pages in a day.
It's easy to turn my own complaining into a reason for complaint and say "I'm just not in the right state for an encouraging epistle from St. Encouragement today," but I've got to try changing that this year. Sorrow, death, and hardship are a given, but I've got to stick with the understanding, patience and truthful speech the rest of the time.

It's no mere coincidence that they use Psalm 51 on Ash Wednesday.

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