Today is the first day of the Lenten season. A time of taking away anything extra in order to prepare our hearts for the Easter Season.
I will not be able to give you a fancy theological reason why I choose to participate in Lent. I did not grow up in an environment that observed Lent. We were more focused on that Jesus came to the world as a baby (Yeah, Christmas!) died and rose again to save us from our sins so that someday we could go to heaven to be with Him forever and that was a reason to celebrate.
These are good things.
As great as this is, the fact that while Jesus was here, dwelling among us, He suffered, He was hurt, He was thirsty and hungry, He was lonely. He went through puberty without sinning. He said 'no' to all the things I say 'yes' to. He was beaten and humiliated. He died a horrible, horrible death... and He would have done it even if I was the only one who needed it.
In a way, the simple, stupid thing that I choose to give up is important. The fact that I won't drink Diet Coke for 40 days is significant only because it will be an hourly reminder of the amazing thing that has been done for me. That the most amazing thing that will ever happen to me has already been done. It's a way for me to say, Hey, Jesus! I'm with you, thank you. I will never suffer as much as He has, but in this very small way, I acknowledge that He did. Denying myself, even a little, will make the celebration that much more meaningful to me.