Ezekiel 9:1–4 ‘Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.’ (v4)
Today is Ash Wednesday, when some Christian traditions mark the foreheads of congregants with an ash cross. It is an outward witness to their inner conviction to live and serve God fully and faithfully.
Indeed Lent, which starts today, is a season that offers itself for personal reflection, change, and growth in Christian faith. In the Hebrew text the sign is a Tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Hebrew of Ezekiel’s time this would have been shaped like an X.
We can only wonder why a Tau – but I like to think the last letter of the alphabet was chosen as an encouragement that, in serving Jesus, we deliberately commit to persevering to the very end, never letting go of our faith regardless of what we encounter in life. Now this is a seriously big ask.
Life really can hurt us, and those we love. But it’s not that our faith doesn’t operate within the shadow of doubt, but that we choose to cling to the hope that faith promises, no matter what our feelings and thoughts might tell us.
However, this is not blind positive thinking. It is a choice to walk the way of Abraham (Heb. 11:8), where hope springs eternal and by choice we hold to what we believe by faith. All redemption is through faith; last I checked even the Bank of England only promises to pay the value of the note in my wallet. But I retain faith in its value.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Jonah 2:1–7; Hab. 1:1–11; Rom. 15:13–22; Heb. 11.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: What are your greatest doubts that battle with your faith in God? Be honest with your doubts and share them with prayerful, supportive friends.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, as I acknowledge my fears and doubts may I also dig in and press on in my faith. Amen.’
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