Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Yesterday I indicated that the intent was to go big and bold for the season of Lent. All around us it appears there is brokenness, violence, anger, depression, anxiety. There are any number of reasons we need to discover more completely the power of God’s love in our lives. We need to place our trust in God so that we would know we are not alone, that even if things are difficult God is still pouring out upon us abundant blessings.

One way we can help ourselves to remember that we have these blessings is to recognize what we take for granted. One reason we may choose to give something up for Lent is to help us not to forget the blessings we have. I know that I can easily do that. I have really had so many blessings in my life. But when things do not go my way, when things are stressful, it is far too easy for me to succumb to the “Why, me?” sense of pity and difficulty. I can forget the unbelievable number of blessings that God has given to me.

See, people who practice religious faith on a regular basis have all kinds of benefits. Consider these findings: “Religious practice promotes the well-being of individuals, families, and the community.” Consider the categories and the findings below.

Marriage. Religion is good for marriage. “Couples whose marriages lasted 30 years or more reported that their faith helped them to deal with difficult times, was a source of moral guidance in making decisions and dealing with conflict, and encouraged them to maintain their commitment to their marriages.” Those who practice their faith are less likely to see their marriages end in divorce. Married couples who practice their faith report being happier. Since living together before marriage has in numerous studies proven to be harmful to marital happiness and success, it is important to note that adolescents who experience religion as an important part of their lives become adults who are much less likely to live together before marriage. Faith practice correlates positively with positive parenting, healthy relationships between parents and children, and a new discovery, a discovery that religious faith practice may correlate positively with a decreased likelihood of domestic violence.

While there are other positive benefits, more and more there are correlations, if not causations that religious practice is good for individuals and good for society. Religious practice results in lower substance abuse, more positive mental health, better physical health and longer life. So what does this have to do with being bold this lent? If you take the time to identify what you need to do to be more open to a relationship with Jesus, the way of living Jesus proposes to us is just better than when we try to go it alone. So take some time today to ask Jesus what you need to do this Lent to become closer to him.

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