But first I mean
To exercise him in the Wilderness,
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, e’re I send him forth
To conquer Sin and Death the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance: 
His weakness shall overcome Satanic strength
And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh;
— God speaking about his son in John Milton’s Paradise R’gained, Lines 155-162 —
Traditionally Lent has been a reflection of the fasting and temptation of Christ. For 40 days he was in the wilderness fasting, then he was tempted, an event so important that Milton’s Epic poem Paradise R’gained is about this season, not about his death and resurrection: an idea I’m not so sure I love but is a part of church history not to be ignored. So in reflection of the Regaining of Paradise, Lent is a voluntary entry into that superimposed weakness, where we lean into suffering, because for a reason beyond my understanding, it is good for us.
I told my brother about a guy I know who has tattooed on his arms “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” and my brother’s response was “if you have pain and aren’t suffering, you’re probably not really enjoying life.” It was a weird thing to say, unless you know my brother. What he meant was that if there is pain and no suffering, there is some sort of denial going on, and if you numb yourself to suffering, and don’t lean into it, you probably are numbing yourself to deep joy as well. So, if I were to concede the distinction between pain and suffering (which I’m not sure I do) as pain being a thing that happens to you (like lose), and suffering being a thing that you do (like mourning) then perhaps suffering is something that we ought to learn how to engage in well in order to not make ourselves numb, like learning how to mourn well.
Perhaps Lent, among other things, is about suffering well, choosing to step into the wilderness because we learn about ourselves and our relationships and our heart when we suffer in solidarity with Christ. And even though I say that it is we who choose to suffer with Christ in the wilderness, isn’t it really the other way around. Ultimately it is Christ who joined the suffering of humanity in order to free us from it…but not yet. This is where I get hung up. I don’t share with you a gospel of prosperity. We are not saved primarily from our suffering, but from our sin. And because our world is broken, sin causes suffering regardless of whether or not you engage in it. Scriptural stories are clear that the righteous suffer along with the unrighteous (Job, and Pharaoh for instance). So, when we ignore suffering, we fail to acknowledge the gravity of our sin collectively as humans and individually as people. And when we fail to acknowledge the gravity of our sin, we also fail to realize the power of God’s grace. For it is Lent: both in the liturgical season, as well as its themes in the daily difficulty of faith, and worldwide lack of love and justice which reminds us of the importance and even the necessity of Easter: both in the liturgical celebration as well as its themes in our incremental redemptive steps, and the impending ultimate renewal of all things.
Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.