Whispers of Faith

The Sweetest Comfort

Breakfast comes and I stumble to the table trying to keep my eyes open. The morning routine begins and I wince as I bring my teacup to my mouth, just milk in my tea today, nothing to make it sweeter.

The long evenings of studying stretch before me and I pull out my Disneyland mug to keep me company … but turn away from the red bags of chai to the yellow ones of the lemon ginger tea.

The students celebrate their birthdays in the classroom, and I have to say, “Thank you, but no,” to the treats being passed around.

Kaitie pulls the hot tray of chocolate-chip cookies out of the oven, and I have to look away.

I eat lunch with my mentor teacher and a few students who eat Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches for dessert … and I smile and say, “Maybe next time.”

A daily physical reminder … that’s what I wanted for Lent. A letting go of sweet things that bring me comfort so that I could turn my gaze back where it belongs … on the comforting face of Jesus.

I must be honest. Most days, I say no to the sugary desserts out of habit. “No, I’m not eating that right now” is an easy enough disclaimer to automatically toss out when presented with cake or cookies or doughnuts or candy. So busy and distracted I am with school and life that I don’t pause to resonate on the reason why I’m not eating those things.

But the teacup in the morning filled with black tea and milk … this is my daily reminder. And this is what reminds me every day of why I’ve chosen this. I didn’t choose this to be more holy or to make me feel better than other people at my show of self-control. I didn’t choose this to make God happier or to satisfy my own love of following the rules.

I chose this because of Psalm 118:8-9 – “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

The sweet breakfast tea, the sweet chai, the sweet treats and desserts all bring comfort to me – joy to my senses and a relaxation into something that I can control.

Jesus said: “Take your eyes off of those earthly things and put them on me. Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God.”

It’s not easy. It’s hard to say no again and again, especially when one is exhausted and there are social expectations and people don’t understand and you’re tired of a “silly rule.”

But as I raise my bitter tea to my mouth, I remember His bitter road to Calvary.

Really, Lydia? Is what you’re doing even comparable in any miniscule way to what Christ endured for your sins? Is your selfishness more important than identifying with the Savior’s piercing?

Swallow that tea and remember how He cried with sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane.

Drain your teacup and think of how He was drained of all life to give you life eternal.

Kneel at your bedside table and confess your sins – your ugly, selfish sins that put you before God every single day.

Complain not of your lack of sweets … for did Christ ever once complain of carrying the weight of sin to Golgotha – sin He didn’t even commit?

I am deeply shamed and convicted of my own response to fasting – and I need the cross to pierce me through again with remembrance – remembrance of the reason: to be drawn to the heart of God.

Life comes from kneeling in sweet communion again with Him. Life comes in contemplating the joys of the cross. Life comes in thankfully giving up in order to see with new eyes. Life comes in every denial which helps me understand my Savior more.

And so I whisper for strength to carry out my pledge to the end of all 40 days. I whisper for a new focus and a redeemed attitude, praying this from Psalm 119:36-37 –

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

And as the words are digested into my soul, I find that the sweetest comfort of all comes from my Lord Jesus.

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