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Rainy Days: Leaning into Lent for Spiritual Growth
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Rainy Days: Leaning into Lent for Spiritual Growth

Loving the Rainy Season: the Settling, Softening, and Blessing of Lent

By Danielle Hitchen

“I hate rainy days,” my oldest mumbles from the backseat on the way to school. She’s decked out in her rain pants, bog boots, and waterproof coat, but there’s no denying it’s going to be a chilly, soggy day at her outdoor school program.

As the thick drops beat on the windshield and my wipers work furiously, I try to remind her of the good things about rainy days and how well-protected she is from the weather, but in my secret heart, I’m relieved I’m not slated to spend the day outside.

But even as I ponder the weather and my poor girl, the words of Psalm 65 come back to me:

You visit the earth and water it….You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. (Psalm 65:9-10 ESV)

And I’m reminded of the ways God uses the “rainy seasons” of our lives to settle our ridges, soften the soil of our hearts, and bless our growth. The rain isn’t always pleasant, but it’s doing good work.

The season of Lent often feels that way to me – self-denial doesn’t usually feel good, but it often creates fertile soil for cultivating good fruit in my life and in my relationship with the Lord.


Aside from Easter, Lent is the oldest season in the traditional Church year. Some sources indicate that the Apostles themselves observed the first Lent as a 40-hour fast (3 pm Friday through 7 am Sunday) in preparation for the resurrection celebration. As the Church grew, Easter became a day for baptisms and Lent an entire season of baptismal preparation. By the early 3rd century, Lent was fixed at 40 days to mirror Christ’s time in the desert.

In scripture, 40 symbolizes the fullness of time, which is to say, the amount of time necessary to prepare a person or nation for the next thing God has for them.

Consider the Israelites for instance: they witness God’s miraculous parting of the Red Sea, celebrate their freedom, and then begin to grumble about being led out into the desert to die. From pilgrims on their way to the Promised Land to desert wanderers in the span of two verses! (Exodus 15:21-24) But as they wander over 40 years, God refines their faith, repeatedly revealing his character and his care for them until their hearts are soft and ready to enter the Promised Land.

As the people of God, we allow Lent to place us with both the Israelites and Christ, recalling what was learned, what was overcome, and what is still required of us on this side of eternity.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people of their hard-won desert revelations:

  • Love the Lord only and do not make idols (6:4-5)
  • Do not put the Lord to the test and keep his commands that it may go well with you (6:16-18)
  • Trust his provision – man does not live by bread alone but by the word of God (8:3)

These are the very words Jesus used to combat the temptation of Satan at the end of his 40 days in the wilderness. Our 40 days of Lent invite us to remember these lessons as well.

The “rainy season” of Lent calls us out of comfort and complacency and beckons us to turn once again to the Lord, asking him to settle our ridges and soften our hearts so that we might be ready to experience afresh the astonishment required by Christ’s finished work on the cross – the broken power of sin and death – and his bodily resurrection – the dawn of new creation.

To assist the Church in making the extraordinary past work of God present in the lives of his people in our own time and place, and indeed, in our own hearts and minds, the Church developed several traditions and disciplines to aid believers in this time of preparation – to call the rain, so to speak. Primary among them are the spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. These are pulled from Matthew 6 and Jesus’s “When you…” statements:

  • “When you give to the needy…” (Matthew 6:2)
  • “When you pray…” (Matthew 6:5)
  • “When you fast…” (Matthew 6:16)

In the context of Lent, prayer and almsgiving naturally flow from fasting. As we tithe our money to enable ministry and we tithe our time (Sabbath) to enable worship and rest, we tithe our appetites during Lent to make space in our budget to give and in our days to pray. These three practices are also considered symbols of restored relationship:

  • with God (prayer) – we are free to enter God’s presence and be in ceaseless communication with him
  • with man (almsgiving) – we are able to put the needs of others ahead of our own
  • with self (fasting) – we are not mastered by our appetites and desires

In the Christian context, fasting is the giving up of something good for a time so that we might seek the one who is best. It’s an intentional emptying that we may be reminded to invite God to fill spaces in our hearts and days so often occupied by something else.

Taking these three “When you” statements as our guide, individuals and families alike can gently enter into Lent and seek the Lord more deeply in preparation for Easter. How this looks practically will vary from person to person, family to family, and even year to year, but there are a few questions to annually consider as you ready your heart for the resurrection celebration:

1. What are reasonable spiritual adjustments you can make in your life right now?

I.e. - set yourself and your family up for success with realistic goals and expectations. The rainy days of our spiritual lives can be challenging, but they need not be miserable.

 Consider how you might adapt your routine to create space for prayer and time to connect with the Lord. If you choose to fast, make a plan for how you will respond in moments of weakness – is there a particular prayer you can say or scripture you can memorize to draw you to the Lord?

If you don’t currently have intentional devotional time with your family, consider adding a time of prayer or scripture memory one or two days a week. Perhaps spend one day a week fasting together from sweets or television.

2. What are you already doing that’s working well? Is there a way to adapt this routine to have a more Lenten theme?

For you, it might mean committing to reading a particular book or working through a devotional designed to draw you deeper into the season.

With kids, this might mean you focus on reading stories about the life of Jesus rather than other parts of scripture. Or you could work on memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, or a Psalm together (Psalm 51 is great for Lent!). You could create an almsgiving jar and invite your children to do extra chores to earn money for the jar and give it to the outreach ministry at your church or another local organization that serves the needy in your community.

Ultimately, the season of Lent is in service to prepare our hearts to remember the crucifixion and celebrate the resurrection – it is not a good unto itself. Just as the rainy season can be appreciated for its benefits – its settling, its softening, its aid in facilitating growth – we can lean into Lent in anticipation of how God will be at work in us. 

Danielle Hitchen longs for people to see and understand God’s big story in the everyday world around them. She is enthusiastic about church history and tradition, mental and emotional health, and living the good life.

By day Danielle is a reluctant homeschool mom, acceptable homemaker, and long-time Associate Producer of the Hugh Hewitt Show. In her spare time, she is also the author of Sacred Seasons and the Baby Believer book series, founder of Catechesis Books, and occasional writer of other things. Danielle loves good stories, big ideas, and beautiful design. She and her husband live near Washington, D.C. where they can be found enjoying Smithsonians and playgrounds alike with their three children, good conversations with their friends, and Virginia vineyards with each other.

To find Danielle’s books and keep up with the latest: and on Instagram and Facebook.

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