Fasting does not change God. Fasting changes us. Our Sunday School class and others in our church family are participating in, “A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor.” We did this last fall and it was such a rewarding experience that they wanted to do it again leading up to Easter. As individuals, we are fasting from a variety of things: a meal a day, second servings, facebook, music, variety of food, sleep, laziness, sweets, creamer, and more. As a church family, we are encouraging each other and providing a level of accountability to help us on the hard days when the physical world seems to close in on us.
Like chocolate. I rarely “crave” chocolate but as soon as my mind thinks I’m not supposed to have any, it starts calling my name! I’ve even had to say out loud for the chocolate to “get behind me!” Does fasting from chocolate draw me closer to God? Not necessarily. For me, I must deny self and allow my heart, soul, and mind to become more sensitive to hear God’s voice. Opening myself up to the things that are very important to God so that they become important to me and seeing God’s will for my life. Oppression and starvation were all over the world last year and last month, but today, I see them everywhere I look; in the things I read.
After our fast last fall, my own family followed our children’s lead, and by eating simply for two weeks of the month we were able to sponsor two more children through Compassion International. I don’t say this to brag but as encouragement to others that children understand the concept of doing things in order to feel what “poor people feel.” I have learned so much by simply following my children’s and youth’s lead to fast in order to have compassion for another; that is, to “feel sympathy and sorrow for another, followed by the strong desire to alleviate the suffering”—the definition of compassion.
I just spent a week in Ecuador with Compassion International. I saw first hand how content one can be when they have Jesus. It made me stop and think about how discontent I can quickly become over trivial things and honestly, I am embarrassed. Now, when the devil starts whispering, I call on Jesus to show me again how, “On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it” (1 Corinthians 11:23b-24).
Gratitude goes hand in hand with fasting. I am grateful for the physical pains that remind me God sees hurting people all over the world, and he desires for me to be grateful for what I have and share it with others.