On March 2, 2019.
By Francis Ewherido
Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of Lent. Lent is a solemn season when Christians, especially of the orthodox fold, engage in fasting (some denominations have already commenced their fasting), abstinence, repentance, moderation, mortification of the flesh and almsgiving. Usually, many people fast and abstain from certain activities (not necessarily sinful) that have become part of their regular living.
The whole idea is to make sacrifices, mortify the flesh and show God that you are sorry for your sins. In the process, people make savings from fasting and abstinence. These savings should be channeled to putting smiles on the faces of the less privileged among us. They might be family members or total strangers, orphanages or old people’s homes, young and old; the bottom line is to spread joy in a depressed world.
Lent is a time of forgiving and asking for forgiveness. It is a time for healing fractured relationships, especially within the family. Charity, they say, begins at home. This year’s Lent coincides with our election period. It starts 10 days after the presidential and national assembly elections and four days before the governorship and state houses of assembly elections. The campaigns have been cantankerous, fierce and divisive. Family ties and friendships have been destroyed in the process. I have seen the agony of defeat and ecstasy of victory.
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Magnanimity in victory and humility in defeat are still scarce. Usually, after an election, the healing process commences and all are supposed to come together as one to move the nation, state or local unit forward. But I can tell you that the bitterness of 2015 was raw and remained intact for many people until 2019. Only God knows for how long some people will harbour the bitterness, hate and anger from the 2019 elections. The wounds are very deep, but they must be healed and Lent offers us the opportunity to start the healing process.
The healing is going to be tough though because in this part of the world, we lay foundations with injustice and try to build peace on the foundation and that is a big problem. Some of the victories being celebrated now were secured with bare-faced criminality and fraud and they are being attributed to God! Many lives were lost in the presidential and national assembly elections. These lives were lost mainly in parts of the south dominated by Christians and there is a real possibility that blood was shed to procure some of these victories being attributed to God.
The bible says the earth with all that is in it is God’s and nothing happens without God’s knowledge. So in a way all victors might be right in attributing their victories to God (and I congratulate all of them), but that does not exonerate those who shed blood or subverted the process to get their victory. This year’s Lent took time in commencing and started during our election period. I do not believe it is a coincidence. It is God’s special design to give those of us who have soiled our hands the opportunity to purify ourselves and ask for forgiveness and pardon in this solemn period of prayers, fasting and abstinence.
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