There is a practice among Christians during the season of Lent. That practice is to “give something up”. The practice is ostensibly for the purpose of appreciating in some small way the suffering of Jesus. How about we flip that practice and all of the underlying assumptions it perpetuates?
Everyone suffers. Even Jesus suffered, during his life and on the cross. The human condition is a container of joys and sorrows, work and respite and so much more. I propose this season of Lent that we consider this: Jesus knew suffering and has compassion for our suffering. Instead of giving up something, take a moment each day to allow Christ to come to you in a memory or a present moment of suffering. Invite Jesus to accompany you, bringing with him the source of divine compassion. Let Jesus do his job.
Christ did not come to add suffering or perpetuate suffering. We recognize the suffering he endured because we too know suffering. Jesus came so we may have life and have it abundantly. The underlying assumption of “you better appreciate the suffering of Jesus” is, I believe, “you are unworthy to begin with.” There is no saying of Jesus inside or outside the bible in which Jesus condemned humanity as unworthy. The position of Jesus vis-à-vis humanity is decidedly full of grace, especially for people who are suffering.
This season of Lent, invite Christ each day to a conversation, a time of quiet, or whatever works for you in which you allow the love of God to soothe any suffering you experience or have experienced. When our suffering is tended by the divine source of compassion, we have more resources to be compassion with ourselves and with the people around us. When we have more compassion for ourselves and the people around us, we begin to notice the many ways in which our lives are abundant. So, don’t give something up; let Christ in.