Another entry in the Lent diary from my friend who is fasting from food during this season:
Friday, March 16, 2018 Day 31 of Lent
Tuesday I woke up feeling gross. This is kind of what happens when my body adjusts to just drinking water, juice and some chocolate milk and then on Mondays I eat lots of stuff. It’s almost like a hangover. I feel sluggish and my stomach felt gross. The strange thing then is fasting on Tuesdays is a welcome thing. By the time I get to Thursday, however, I am ready to eat again. My hunger is not too bad though. I am a bit more tired now, and cold, but besides that, my body is holding up well. My back is still an issue. That does force me to pray more and think more about how to rely upon God. It’s still a struggle.
The prayer for this week is
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
One of the readings this week from the two-year lectionary was Mark 8:1-10, the feeding of the 4,000. In verse two, Jesus says, “I have compassion for the crowd because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.” This verse hit me in a very different way in the midst of a fast. It’s not necessarily saying they were fasting during the three days. Jesus just says that they did not have anything to eat. But in the next verse, he says that if he sends them away, they will faint on the way because of hunger, so whatever the specifics of the situation, these crowds had forgone their immediate needs in terms of food for the sake of listening to Jesus. Am I doing that? Furthermore, am I willing to lay everything down just in order to listen to Jesus? There was just something challenging for me in that little story that wasn’t before. I think we focus on the miracle, and that makes sense, but the miracle came to a people Jesus had compassion on and a people that were being taught by Jesus. They sacrificed in order to be taught. Of course, all of that leads to Jesus miraculously giving them bread, which then led my mind to the prayer for the week. Jesus Christ is the true bread – “ever more give us this bread that he may live in us and we in him” May that be my prayer.
So I guess, whether it is my back or my fasting – whatever it is, Jesus is to be the real bread that feeds my soul. That is what I want, but I find myself hesitant to make sacrifice all too often. I think one of the real benefits of fasting like this is the intentionality of sacrifice for the sake of listening to Jesus. I am not convinced that I would just do this naturally. I need the rhythms and traditions of the church to sweep me into this narrative and this way of life, and I am often surprised by what this discipline in one area of my life brings out in others. On that note, I remember the first time I did this sort of fast throughout Lent. I went into it thinking a lot about the physical challenge and wondering how that would work out. I was blown away by what happened spiritually and emotionally. As I have continued this tradition, I am not as surprised by the fact that these other areas are addressed or exposed, but I am continually surprised by how fasting opens up areas in my life and soul that I was not expecting.