Lenten Devotions 2022
Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2, and ends the Saturday before Easter.
It is a time of preparation, of self-examination and of reflection as we journey toward the cross.
The devotions in this collection, designed so that you can use one for each week of Lent, focus on ways we can honor Jesus by caring for others.
Where hope prevails
by Jamie Grubb
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The ocean roared, roofs were ripped off, and houses and coconut trees toppled. Fighting against the wind and flying debris, Nerissa and her family fled to her parents’ house two kilometers inland. They believed they would be safe, but the rising waters followed them. They were trapped inside the interior bathroom with no means of escape as they clung to their children and fervently prayed.
When the waters finally receded and they returned home, they discovered that the sea had taken their home and their business, a birthing center, and had destroyed their beloved community. Filled with gratitude that their lives were spared, they were overwhelmed at the loss that surrounded them.
The book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, also tells the sad story of a people who lost everything. Taken captive by Babylon into a land of strangers with unfamiliar customs, Jeremiah pens the example of how we are to live through times of great affliction. He knew firsthand that although we grieve, we survive by living in the embrace of God’s hope. Amid the turmoil, when the situation seems overwhelming, hope reminds us that God’s compassion springs forth new every morning. We may suffer, but God never fails.
I met Nerissa in the Philippines after a super typhoon devastated the island of Leyte. As a trauma chaplain and trainer, my job was to provide emotional and spiritual support and education to the staff, patients and community at a maternal and medical clinic in the middle of the disaster zone. Nerissa came to deliver babies to those in even greater need. Sleeping in a tent amid the rubble of her home, she commuted over an hour to work in the clinic, which was also housed in tents.
In 15 years of deployments to disasters and a lifetime of experiences, I’ve never been impacted like I was after the typhoon. Nerissa and many like her were living examples of Jeremiah’s words: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” They trusted in God for a better tomorrow. Nerissa later received health care grants to rebuild her home and clinic, and now she delivers babies every day for the poorest of the poor. God’s compassion is new every morning.
By responding to disasters and helping to secure housing with those who dream of tomorrow, Habitat for Humanity is a hope giver. Every need that is met is an example of God’s great compassion. As we move through the 40 days of Lent to the glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus, may we remember that we are serving alongside a faithful God who will never fail us.
Gentle God, You have given us the promise of resurrection through Your Son Jesus Christ that we too may live in hope. Even when we fall into darkness, loss or suffering, You guide us with Your light that we may find a way out of our distress. Help us to be people of hope that others who suffer may see Your light and Your hope in us. May Your Kingdom and Your glory be revealed in us. Amen.
- How did you feel as you read Nerissa’s story? Did it invoke compassion, encouragement or sadness? Or did it provoke questions? Don’t be afraid to bring those thoughts to God.
- God never promised that we wouldn’t suffer in this world, but He did promise that He would be with us during the suffering. Can you remember a time when you struggled with a challenge or loss but God restored your hope? How do you feel about that situation now?
- Sometimes when a person is going through a difficult time, they can’t get a hold on hope. We can lend them our hope just by listening, supporting and offering a nonjudgmental presence to them. Do you know someone who may need hope during this Lenten season?
Jamie Grubb is a crisis and trauma chaplain, grief coach and spiritual director working with the spiritual life team at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Upstate New York in the U.S.
New creations in Christ
By Rowena Cuanico
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
Usually when we introduce ourselves, we share the most important pieces of information about our lives. We share about who we are, about our identity.
When we were new in Fiji as Columban Lay Missionaries, one of the first things we learned was how to introduce ourselves. As I was studying Fiji Hindi, I had to introduce myself in that language. I shared about the most important aspects of my identity: my name, where I had come from and my being a Columban Lay Missionary. As we learned more new words, I noticed that I was telling more and more about myself. Yet my core identity remained the same.
For Paul, the identity of being in Christ was the central theme of his message to the early Christian communities. Paul used the phrases “in Christ” and “in Him” 143 times in his epistles. What does it mean then to be in Christ?
Perhaps because I am a talent acquisition specialist, I am inclined to propose some key performance indicators to help define what it means to be in Christ. Or perhaps we can look at Habitat for Humanity’s core values — humility, courage and accountability — as attributes. We can also learn from our servant leadership capabilities.
Being in Christ invites us to foster and nourish an intimate relationship with Christ, born out of love. Christ desires nothing else but for us to be united and in communion with Him, transformed into God’s own image and likeness. As we are being rooted in Christ, we are being led and directed to new values and perspectives. Am I becoming more compassionate? Have I become more forgiving? Have I become more accepting and tolerant of people whose faith traditions are different from mine? This may sound like a performance evaluation. However, in our faith journey, when we become more aware of and conscious of God’s work in us, our relationship will likewise become more intimate and life-giving.
As we enter the season of Lent, we are blessed with this wonderful opportunity to reflect and celebrate God’s unfathomable love for us. We are given time for prayer and solitude. We are encouraged to leave our comfort zone and exercise self-discipline through fasting. We are invited to do good and love more.
Loving God, may our hearts be open and attentive. Help us to be willing and ready to be surprised and awed by Your work, always making us new, renewing and transforming us, over and over again. May we be Christ to the world — eager to do good and love more.
- If you were to introduce yourself in no more than 50 words, what would you say?
- Describe a time in your life when you felt new or changed or transformed.
- What practices or traditions during Lent do you find meaningful and life-giving?
- What would you consider growth areas in your spiritual life or faith journey?
Rowena Cuanico is a talent acquisition specialist and interim regional safeguarding focal person for the Asia/Pacific area of Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Manila, Philippines.
Removing the stony heart
By Juan de Dios Valdez
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
— Ezekiel 11:19-20, King James Version
The prophet Ezekiel had a responsibility to be God’s spokesman when the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon. In the midst of suffering, and as people drifted further away from God, Ezekiel uttered prophecy that brought hope. In that prophecy, God promised to change the people’s stone-hardened hearts to hearts capable of feeling the immense love God was willing to give them.
This contrast was what Ezekiel’s prophecy was about. A heart of stone — or a stubborn heart, as the Good News Translation calls it — is one that has no mercy, that does not discern between what is good and what is bad, that does not mind mistreating or even killing a neighbor. In short, a man with a heart of stone is one far from God.
On the contrary, a heart of flesh — or an obedient heart according to the Good News Translation — in the context of Ezekiel, is capable of feeling compassion and solidarity with the needy. It is capable of loving and giving thanks for the goodness of God. A heart of flesh has recognized God and accepted His unconditional love.
As in the time of Ezekiel, we are certainly living in times of suffering. Sadly, that leads many people to reflect attitudes found in a heart of stone. At times, when we examine our own actions and look deep within ourselves, we likely see residues of a heart of stone as well.
In this Lenten period, when we contemplate deeply the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded that Jesus’ suffering was to demonstrate His immense love for us. Therefore, we are to reflect the heart of flesh that God has placed in each of us. At Habitat for Humanity, we often talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus. We are privileged to show others a heart filled with God’s amazing love.
During this season, we also are to reflect on whether we have hurt or mistreated someone. If so, we must ask for forgiveness. We must think of those to whom we must demonstrate compassion. How can we share a heart capable of feeling God’s love with others?
O Almighty God, what amazing love You show to us! Thank You for taking away our heart of stone, rebellious and far from You. We are grateful that You have given us a heart of flesh so that we can feel Your love and the joy that it means to be Your children. Help us every day in this Lenten period to understand and recognize that You are our protective God and that You are attentive to us. Remove from us any residue of a stony heart. Allow us to show to others an obedient heart by loving You more and more every day, seeking to be more in Your image. In the glorious name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen!
- What are the residues of a stony heart that you can identify in your life?
- How can we put into practice the heart of flesh that God has given us?
- What individual commitment can we make to put this reflection into practice?
- With whom do you need to share God’s love and your heart of flesh?
Juan de Dios Valdez is the director of internal audit for the Latin America and Caribbean area of Habitat for Humanity International. He is based in Orlando, Florida, in the U.S.
Embracing the newness of Jesus
By Malena Tomlin
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
— Matthew 9:14-17, New Revised Standard Version
Jesus does not mince His words as He speaks to the Pharisees. By the power of God, He will provide a brand-new life. The old religious customs seemed just fine by the Pharisees, who often questioned new methods and ideologies. They were set in their ways, and doing something different was perceived as wrong. Reflect on this a moment. Do you judge and scrutinize new methods? Do you believe there is only one way to go about a task or responsibility? Do you believe your methods are the only ones that are right? Do you approach your work at Habitat for Humanity willing to collaborate, or do you isolate? Jesus provides examples to explain there is no benefit in applying old customs to new creations. The parables Jesus shares are foreshadowing His resurrection — a miracle never perceived before.
Let’s take the time to acknowledge this new life, to become more aware of this special gift. Praise the Lord in celebration of what this new life has to offer: spiritual liberation! Blessings of abundance radiate from this new life. This divine newness in Jesus needs not to be opposed but embraced. One way for us to truly enjoy this new life in the Lord is not to attach it with anything oppressive like the past. We must receive life and move forward in Christ with fresh eyes to learn as He teaches and see life as He does.
As we accept this gift, Jesus becomes our brand-new covering. Let us start the day expecting the Lord to do wonderful and exciting new things. We should find no comfort in predictable, monotonous practices. Living a life in Christ leaves no room for repetitive and confined rituals. Jesus’ desire for us within this season of Lent is to know He is always doing a new thing. Make room for new ways of living for Him and loving others. Communities are best served when we keep His newness in mind. Keep your eyes fresh for His miracles!
Loving Father, forgive me for attempting to put You in a box. Your divinity is too great and powerful to be held in human constraints. Open my eyes, my ears, my heart and my mind to live abundantly in the new life You provided for me. Challenge me. Teach me. Make me wise as You see fit. I thank You for Your gift of newness. Cause me to be a great steward of such a wonderful gift. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
- What are some old customs, habits or thoughts you can leave behind?
- Name two or three things you can do to receive more of the newness of Christ within the work you do.
Malena Tomlin is a spiritual life intern at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Pasadena, California.
Finding the extraordinary in the routine
By Lee Ann Arnason
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
— Luke 4:18-19, New International Version
These words from Jesus are part of a powerful passage from Luke, delivered on what seemed to be an ordinary Sabbath. After 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, Jesus had returned to Nazareth where He was raised. Word had spread about Him as he traveled. In His hometown, Jesus was doing what He would normally do. He went to the synagogue and read Scripture. The words from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah would be familiar to those in attendance, but at this reading, Jesus, anointed by the Holy Spirit, proclaims Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. In what began as routine worship, this extraordinary moment changed everything.
This was not what people had anticipated in seeking the Messiah. Thanks be to God, His ways are not routine or predictable. Turning the norms upside down, Jesus declares that those overlooked will be uplifted and that what was deemed damaged and bound shall be healed and freed. He brings good news for the poor, the enslaved and the oppressed.
He then proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor.” The Hebrew word for favor is ratson. It also means “goodwill and acceptance.” It’s not the kind of favor we owe as repayment for a kindness or the fulfillment of a debt. It is not something we can earn. Like grace, God freely favors us because He loves us. His sacrifice and love redeem us.
In response, we are called to extraordinary acts of love. We are fortunate at Habitat that we get to be a part of the outpouring of God’s love around the world. We get to proclaim the good news in ways that are transformational.
As we journey through the season of Lent, may we look for the extraordinary in the routine. May we not allow our perspective to blind us to the needs of others. May we anticipate the Lord’s favor with hearts full of gratitude.
Gracious Lord, we humbly thank You for Your grace and favor. Inspire us this Lenten season. Grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to perceive and hearts to feel the extraordinary ways You are present in our lives. May we seek to serve you and those You call us to serve. May we love in big and grace-filled ways. Show us how, in Your name, we can bind up the brokenhearted, free the oppressed and honor those overlooked. In Jesus’ precious and holy name, Amen.
- How can I seek God in the ordinary? What blinds me to these opportunities to see His face and works?
- What does it mean to live in God’s favor? How does that change the way I engage with the world and those around me?
Lee Ann Arnason is an application analyst at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Hickory, North Carolina.
Behold, I make all things new
By Mike Carscaddon
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
— Revelation 21:5, New International Version
I have been intrigued for many years by the mysteries of faith. These are mysteries in the sense that they cannot be explained or comprehended by reason alone. As a logical thinker, I normally crave data and clear understanding. However, in my faith, I’ve come to appreciate and even celebrate those things I cannot fully grasp.
One such mystery that strikes me is what some call the thin space between heaven and earth. We hear about it in the Christmas Eve liturgy when Christ is born. And we hear it echoed again during the Great Vigil of Easter, the first service of Easter morning. In some faith traditions, the cantor sings, “How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined, and we are reconciled to God.”
The mystery here is God incarnate, coming to earth as an infant at Christmas and ultimately reconciling us to God through Christ’s resurrection. These are moments when the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we are able to catch glimpses of the divine.
The resurrection story of Easter is a wonderful mystery that makes all things new and brings hope to all humankind. I’ve seen foretastes of this hope in the work that Habitat for Humanity does around the world. People of all walks of life are lifted up by a good place to live, and communities are inspired to create better environments for children to grow into all that God intended.
Gracious God, thank You for faith, those aspects that we intellectually understand and those things that we cannot fully comprehend. We ask that You continue to bless the ministry and work of Habitat for Humanity, that we may bring hope to those in need of housing. Through Jesus Christ our Risen Lord, Amen.
- How have you experienced the mysteries of faith?
- When have you seen hope in the work of Habitat for Humanity?
Mike Carscaddon is executive vice president of administration and chief financial officer at Habitat for Humanity International. He is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
When Jesus calls my name
By Pam Campbell
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
— John 20:16, New International Version
Imagine Mary’s thoughts as she prepared spices and perfumes for Jesus’ body. Perhaps she repeated to herself, “Concentrate. You can get through this.” It must have been very surreal, yet Mary focused on what had to be done. In Mark’s account of the women going to the tomb, which mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, the women asked one another, “Who will roll the stone away?”
I am an organizer. Color-coded lists give me great satisfaction. While those tools are often very helpful, my desire to have everything under control does not always serve me well. I must confess that too often I start creating and putting into motion my own plans before stopping to pray.
Such was the case while waiting my turn to get the first COVID-19 vaccination. I learned that my adult daughter was to have ankle surgery. That meant no weight bearing for six weeks, and she lives in a two-story house with the kitchen downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs. Immediately, I began to research what it meant to be designated a caregiver, and I composed messages on patient portals. I simply had to get vaccinated so I could safely care for her.
Within hours, but with absolutely no connection to my full-on Mom efforts, I received a text from the hospital where a couple of my doctors practice. I was a bit puzzled because I couldn’t find a message in the usual place on the website, and I was busy, so I went on to other things. Late that night, however, I decided to try again. I explored a couple of different locations on the site, and there it was: an invitation to get vaccinated two days later.
It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, but my immediate response was “thank you, Jesus.” Yes, the hospital had sent out a mass message to many patients, and others might simply call this a grand coincidence. In that moment, however, I heard only the voice of Jesus, and I gave great thanks. God had answered the prayer I didn’t take time to pray.
Imagine Mary busy in full-on friend mode. Prepared to do the unimaginable task of preparing her dear friend’s body for burial, she encountered the empty tomb. The risen Lord was right there before her, but she did not recognize Him until Jesus called her name.
At Habitat for Humanity, part of our success comes from creating and implementing carefully thought-out plans. That is critical for any organization. But may we never get so immersed in our work and in our plans that we don’t hear Jesus call our names. This Lenten season reminds us to be alert so that when Jesus shakes things up, we are ready to follow Him faithfully.
Lord, we confess that we often rely on our own plans. We like having clear directions. Help us to accept the mysteries of faith and to trust You. Lord, speak to us in a voice that we will understand as we seek to live as people of the Resurrection. We are grateful that You know our names and that You show us ways we can demonstrate Your love in word and deed. Amen.
- What honorable tasks are busying your heart and mind this Lenten season?
- In what unusual ways have you heard the voice of Jesus calling to you specifically?
- How are you responding to plans that have been shaken up lately?
- What has ignited in you a deep desire to serve?
Pam Campbell is executive communications services director at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.