Starving in a land of plenty
Each Tuesday for some time now a dear friend and I have been fasting till the evening meal. For us that means no solid food all day, perhaps a fruit juice just to keep our sugar levels on an even keel if needed, and plenty of water.
Now, why on earth in a land of plenty such as we live would two sane men go without food like that. Even Christians often respond to the notion of fasting with obvious recoil.
By coincidence last night I watched a short clip where a Christian pastor shared his time of imprisonment by the Communist regime in Romania back in the 1980’s, how at times the jailers would starve their prisoners hoping to break them. I loved how he reflected ‘how foolish they were, for we are not just bodies, no we are spirit, and you can kill the body but not the spirit.’
He had transcended and conquered their futile attempts to starve him into submission. He knew he was being sustained by God, despite the brutality of his treatment.
Have we Christians forgotten that we too are spirit before body?
That is not the initial reason my friend and I committed to this weekly fasting, but it sure is humbling to realise that I so easily and naturally seek to satisfy my physical hunger, and yet so easily ignore the need to nourish the inner man, the spiritual man. Tuesdays remind me, powerfully, how weak I truly am in this respect. Fasting humbles us, awakens us to our own spiritual poverty or hunger, and draws us nearer to God’s will for us and the world around us.
700 years before Jesus the prophet Isaiah recorded God’s own powerful statement regarding fasting. I’ll share just a snippet here –
“..this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (Isa 58:6-8 NLT)
That unpacks another vital truth. It should radically change our thinking as we turn from inward thinking (self) to very much outward thinking (blessing others)
Oh, and I’m sure I have much more to learn each Tuesday.