Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.
I am seven days into fasting from sugar during Lent. No, the scale hasn’t moved. But this was not the purpose from restraining from sugar. It’s about being more dependent upon God and less dependent upon things I put into my mouth.
Today was the first day since the beginning of Lent I struggled with eating. When I got home this afternoon, I just wanted to eat. I choose a couple healthy and acceptable options. But the desire continued. I knew it was something between my ears and not something my tummy wanted. Finally, I convinced myself that a cup of coffee was sufficient.
While we often think of fasting as refraining from food, here are some other “fasting” options for us to ponder this Lent:
- Fast from anger and hatred. Instead, dole out extra doses of love to those closest to you.
- Fast from judging others. Thank goodness Jesus generously overlooks our faults.
- Fast from discouragement. Some days I wonder if I am anywhere near what God would desire me to be doing with my life. God can take anything in my life and create meaningful purpose if I choose to let it happen.
- Fast from complaining. Instead, recall the most recent moment of joy you experienced.
- Fast from resentment and bitterness. Be generous with forgiveness, even when someone does not deserve it. Thank goodness God does not make forgiveness to us dependent upon whether we deserve it.
- Fast from unnecessary spending this Lent. Find extra ways to give to others these 40 days.
Once again, fasts are most often about what is between our ears. If all these options are too overwhelming, pick one area and concentrate on this for the rest of Lent. Or challenge yourself to intentionally include one fast each week. Imagine what type of society we could live in if many people fasted from these things the rest of Lent. Wow. We can only imagine.
Lord God, change our hearts. Make them more like Jesus’ heart. May we be encouraged to fast and refrain from those things that tear us down rather than build your kingdom. Amen.
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