It’s Lent season and you probably know somebody fasting from something. Maybe you haven’t thought much about doing it yourself. But even if you’re the not-so-religious type you might consider giving up something over these next few weeks in hopes of gaining a little bit of your humanity back. Here are some thoughts on fasting if you’re not really into Lent or if you’re new to the whole fasting thing.
First of all, it’s easy to fall prey to feeling guilty and ashamed over not being very spiritual. Why aren’t I more spiritual? Why don’t I live for God more? While it’s right to have a little sorrow over our apathy, God doesn’t intend for you to condemn yourself.
In fact, the desire to desire God is the same as desiring God.
In both instances you have desire, but in the first instance you don’t feel hunger pangs whereas in the second instance you do. So how can you calibrate your spirit so you can register spiritual hunger pangs? This is where the spirit learns from the body.
People usually don’t fast because they’re spiritually hungry. They fast to become spiritually hungry.
Fasting things like food creates physical hunger pangs. While the point of fasting is not to merely feel hungry, the metaphor of spiritual hunger comes alive when you feel actual physical hunger. Each time the hunger pang arises you tell yourself, “My body is hungry, but my spirit even more so.” When spiritual hunger registers you feel the pang. You feel the remorse over sin. You feel the contrition towards your faith. You feel the attrition from your mistakes. You realize you’ve been feeding on spiritual junk like addictions and coping mechanisms.
You realize that in seeking comfort you found apathy.
The pang may start as a sadness or remorse. But then it turns into a quest and a journey for real Food. You desire to be in the place where God is. You desire to be with God’s people. You hunger to hear and follow God’s voice. You begin to wonder more what it means to be transformed by God. You want your vocation, your relationships, your every breath to be motivated by the God who loves you and gave His life for you.
The craving returns.
You are spiritually hungry.
Or maybe even for the first time.
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips
PSALM 63:1-5 ESV