Early in Lent, we recall how the Spirit led Jesus into the desert for 40 days, during which time he was tempted by the devil. Jesus won those battles with Satan, and angels ministered to Jesus.
Last night, I woke up from a sound sleep, and I could not seem to get back to sleep. I lay there in the dark and the quiet. My husband and Buddy, our cat, were sleeping on either side of me. There was nothing wrong, but my mind started wandering. I got thinking that wakefulness could be like a desert experience in which a person might be tempted to lapse into despair or let their worries overtake them. With a lack of positive or worthwhile stimuli, it is possible—especially if someone is tired or ill—that faith in God’s love and forgiveness could be questioned there in the darkness. Creative minds can function in good and not-so-good ways to conjure up different potential outcomes to life’s challenges. The darkness can seem long and lonely. The Psalms are helpful as we pray. Why not try praying with Psalm 16, or Psalm 28, or Psalm 30, just to suggest three?
Seven years ago, I was recovering from surgery and was off my regular sleep routine. I would wake up in the middle of the night and learned to try some ways of calming anxiety. God gave us 10 fingers, so we can easily pray even just a decade of the rosary without beads, but rosary beads could conveniently be on the nightstand next to the bed. Our mother, Mary, is always ready to hear our prayers and pray for our needs.
I used to remember childhood routine walks with my mother and actually retrace those walks in my mind. I would recall the houses we’d pass, the local stores we would visit, the errand stops we would make. Those were happy, innocent times, and it was good to see the familiar places again. Gratitude prayers could easily pop up and remind me of how much I was and am loved. Perhaps my guardian angel was there enjoying my memories too! Worries about health and recovery could be replaced by these happy reminiscences.
When I think of a desert, I think of the lack of living things, water, color, and hope. I think it would be easy, in a number of ways, to be lost in a desert. Mankind has been struggling in a desert-like corona virus pandemic for a year now. Scientists and government officials have been trying to find our way out of the sickness. People have been urged to stay somewhat isolated and left to their own devices, both literally and figuratively, in efforts to adjust their lives. It could be tempting to give up or lose hope. Tempers could get short. Sadly, I have heard of scams that have been perpetrated to take advantage of people already in bad situations. We pray for comfort and help, and we have been blessed with people’s generosity and medical advances. Especially in this season of Lent, we faithfully continue to pray and ask Jesus, who was no stranger to suffering, to keep us hopeful and helpful.
Jesus prepared for his public ministry as he prayed in the desert. As we prepare for Easter by repenting and trying to come closer to our Savior, may we resolve to turn our personal deserts into living oases by the words Jesus spoke as he cast the devil out:
“‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”(Matthew 4:10)
Photo by Katerina Kerdi on Upsplash
The scripture passage is from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.