Five days ago, Jesus sent us all a personal invitation to join him in the desert for 40 days. (If you haven’t gotten it, check your spam folder.) 40 days of temptation, fasting, suffering… I said thanks, but no thanks. I like my spot over here on the edge of the desert. However, after five days, I wish I would’ve said yes.
If I’m honest with myself, I said no because I’m scared of suffering. So imagine my surprise when I realized I was still suffering on the edge of the desert! And this suffering was worse in a way. It was, as St. Paul says, “worldly grief” as opposed to the “godly grief” Jesus was offering.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
In other words, I’m now staring down 40 days of suffering that will leave me worse off than I started, and I can already tell this is true. I gave up something easy and vague so that I could find loopholes and be happier…but I’m not happy. If I’m going to suffer, I want that suffering that leads to salvation. That leaves me better than it found me. I want to join Jesus in the desert.
Here’s the good news: We still can.
So if you find yourself full of angst like me, rethink that invitation. It’s still open. And while you’re doing that, pray for me that I have the strength to say yes this time. I’ll be doing the same for you.