Examination. Repentance. Recommitment. Hope. New Life.

We who claim the name of Christian – who view all of life through the lens of faith – have been on a 40-day journey we call Lent. It is a time during which we intentionally examine the shadows and darkness within us and all humanity.

It is also a time of hope as we look forward with anticipation to the new life that is given to us by the love by God.

This year, the spiritual work of Lent has seemed more important as the disruption, isolation, and yes, even the death of too many because of COVID-19 has continued. Consideration of our mortality has come with the acute realization that our time here on earth is indeed short and not something to ever take for granted.

We grieve the loss of neighbors, friends, and for too many of us, members of our own families. Dealing with just the fear and isolation created by the pandemic has driven many into the depths of depression.

Into this dark reality, a wondrous ray of hope breaks through. This new hope is what we Christians know as the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We believe that when the world attempted to say “No!” to love and compassion and attempted to end it all by putting Jesus to death, God responded with a resounding “YES!” to life.

The resurrection of Jesus broke the hold of our worst fears and our greatest unknown – death. The resurrection is the key to understand all of scripture and all of life, even life in a pandemic.

This grand act of God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus gives us believers the ability to face each day. We are encouraged by acknowledging that our darkest days are not our last days. We face each challenge trusting that God and God alone writes the final chapter of life.

The courage and confidence we receive by placing our faith in God is not only sufficient for us but also becomes a gift we can share with others. Having experienced God’s grace, we desire to connect others to the God who offers healing to the broken, peace for those in turmoil, forgiveness for those overcome with guilt, hope for those living in despair, and eternal life for those facing earthly death.

And that makes the somber journey of Lent worth traveling. May it be so!

Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.