Great Lent is almost half-way over, and by now you are “feeling the pain” of the Fast, even if only in your stomach. One of the blessings of Great Lent, any fast really, is that it helps us to learn an important lesson about struggle. No matter what we are struggling with, the struggle never lasts forever.
Take a moment and read (or re-read if you have already read it) today’s reading from Genesis.
And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more. In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God said to Noah, "Go forth from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh - birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth - that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth." So Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. And every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves upon the earth, went forth by families out of the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done." – Genesis 8.4-21
For this entire week, we have heard about Noah and the flood. We’ve heard about how God prepared Noah for his journey. We’ve heard about how God was protecting Noah, his family and the animals. We’ve heard about the animals being gathered. We’ve even been given a timeline of how many days and weeks Noah spent in the Ark with his family and who knows how many animals. The only thing we didn’t hear about, which frankly I’m thankful for, is how nasty the Ark must have been that whole time. Even notice how health and hygiene are not discussed often in Scripture? I’m not surprised really, but that is not the emphasis of today’s post.
Today, by God’s gift, we are reminded that all struggle comes to an end. Nothing on earth lasts forever, including floods. (Just allow me a brief departure to express my prayers for those struggling with recent floods in the mid-section of America.) Just as Great Lent is a period of time with a beginning and end, so it is true with every struggle in life. How did Noah deal with it?
Noah was a man of righteousness, who didn’t depart from God’s way. He was a man of prayer and commitment to God. So, when his struggle finally came to an end, his natural expression was an expression of worship to God. AS SOON as everyone (people and animals) were off the Ark, “Noah built an Altar to the Lord,” and he worshipped God in thanks for keeping them safe.
When your struggle comes to an end, which it eventually will. How will you thank God? We know that too often, many of us forget this step, and get right back to work. This even happens with Holy and Great Pascha. After weeks of struggling with Great Lent, most of us Monday morning head right back to work as if nothing ever happened. We tend to forget what we learned about God and about ourselves during Great Lent. We tend to forget to say “Thank You” to God. Many of us don’t even stay for Divine Liturgy after signing Christ is Risen.
This year, I invite you not to allow your life to “just get back to normal” and forget to thank God. The struggle of Great Lent will eventually pass, but His love for you will never pass.