“And rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 2:13, ESV)
Rend! It means rip apart. The text says to rend your hearts. In other words, your heart is to be broken.
Someone recently asked me, “Is Lent about being sad?” We focus on repentance and fasting. And now we are told to have our hearts broken. We focus on Jesus’ death upon the cross which can be a sad thing. Ashes, used on Ash Wednesday, were used in the Old Testament when people mourned a loss.
So, should we be sad during Lent? Consider this:
Jesus died. He paid for our sin through his blood. He is now risen, and we have received the gift of forgiveness through faith.
Christ does not need to be sacrificed again and again. You do not need a sacrifice of sorrow to accomplish forgiveness. Anything that you feel compelled to do to receive your pardon will ultimately diminish what Jesus has already done.
So what does this mean?
Sin will break us. It tears us apart. But as believers, we don’t need to be afraid of confronting our sin. We can admit our sins and our failures. We can put it all out there because we already have God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
The world will hide and conceal sin, seeing it as a sign of weakness. But we already know we are weak and God is our strength.
Think about tears of joy. Why do we cry when we are happy? Because we are overwhelmed by a sense of unworthiness and awe. You cry tears of joy when you are caught off guard by something so unexpected and wonderful. When we acknowledge the awfulness of our sin, we are all the more shocked by the awesomeness of the cross.
Sure we can be sad over our sin. But the joy of Christ triumphs over any sorrow. If we are truly aware of our sin, we will be sad about it. But if we are aware of God’s love, any sorrow will be transformed into tears of joy. The tears of Lent are not tears of sorrow, but tears of overwhelming joy!
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, ESV)