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Forty Days

  • Cheryl Johnston Spiritual Life Editor
  • 2001 27 Feb
Forty Days
After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert to endure 40 days of temptation by Satan (Luke 4:1-13). In this time, Jesus did not eat and He suffered hunger. Satan urged Jesus to turn a stone into bread, but Jesus resisted. Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world, and again Jesus refused. When I think of the sacrifices and suffering that Jesus endured for our sakes, I often only think of the beatings, mocking and crucifixion. In actuality, Jesus sacrificed time, popularity and comfort throughout His years of preaching.

Honestly, Id have to say that I dont often consciously make sacrifices for God, family or friends. I can attribute some of my choices to putting others before myself; however, outright denying myself something is not a part of my daily life. I buy, eat and do what I want, within my moral and financial boundaries. Despite my selfishness, I do feel that Christians are called to be selfless Ephesians 5:2 and this is something I should continually be working toward. The disciples made sacrifices to share the gospel. In his letter to the Romans 12:1 Paul reminds us that we are called to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

If you have never fasted, I recommend doing it some time. When someone in my family was ill several years ago, an aunt invited me to fast with her once a week. Every Tuesday we skipped breakfast and lunch and had a light dinner in the evenings. Despite careful planning and plenty of fruit juice on Tuesdays, I was hungry throughout the day. My hunger constantly reminded me to entrust God with the healing of my relative. I felt closer to God, almost as intensely as when I receive communion.

I learn a lot about Jesus when I make an effort to live as He did. Occasionally sacrificing something that I enjoy enables me to experience a small token of the suffering that He endured for us. For these reasons, I often give up something for Lent, the 46 days leading up to Easter Sunday. I have found that Easter holds a deeper meaning and experience for me when I personally prepare for it. Once I have spent six and a half weeks forgoing dessert, hot tea or even just chocolate alone, I more fully appreciate that Jesus was truly tempted to turn the stone into bread. He had not eaten anything for 40 days, after all. Whereas my mother encouraged us to give something up for Lent, my father persuaded us to add something good to our days during this time. Ive observed Lent by reading a small passage of Scripture each night, making an extra effort to correspond with distant friends and going out of my way to be helpful. This is a great practice that can end up lasting beyond Easter as we strive to be more kind and considerate.

Honestly, the efforts to be kinder or more devout have not impacted me as much as the times when I have given up something. It is much harder to go without than to add. And Jesus was not lacking in kindness or love; He was Love and yet He had to deny Himself a comfortable life in order to carry out Gods will. I believe that by forgoing my own comforts more often, I can better understand what Jesus time on earth was like and, better yet, I can know Him more fully.

For Scripture readings, histories of the holidays leading up to Easter and ideas for how to personally observe this season of reflection on Christs sacrifice, check out our Easter Calendar.