I’m cold and hungry.
This has been the most challenging evening of the fast for me so far. I have been doing a combination fast–36 hours of total fasting followed by 12 hours of Daniel fasting. I chose this method last year and was drawn into the cycle of emptiness and petition followed by the celebration of abundance and gratitude. On the foodless days, I tell God what I hunger for and feel his strength in my weakness. On the eating days, I gladly fill myself with the most nourishing things he provides, and I have become so aware of how, when I empty myself of distractions and the things that aren’t good for me, my craving for what is good and pure intensifies.
But tonight I’m hungry, really hungry, and icy cold on the inside, like I get when I am really really hungry. And there is food all around. I made a burger for my daughter and filled her cupboard with snacks. She left scraps on her plate and as I was feeding them to the dogs, I thought that it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal just to eat the bite that she left. Technically, I could still call it fasting because the calories would be negligible. It would calm the ache inside and alleviate the suffering enough to get through the next few hours. This fasting is self-imposed and I made the rules, so I can decide what counts and what doesn’t, right?
If I did what I wanted to make myself feel better in the moment, what would be the worth of this whole day of denial? God doesn’t ask or demand suffering of us, but when it is before us and we choose to accept it as a pathway to His heart, it becomes something sacred. Within it, I find His strength and reassurance. It is where I hear His voice. I can alleviate the hunger as easily as I inflicted it upon myself. It is totally within my own hands, within my earthly power.
God doesn’t ask or demand suffering of us, but when it is before us and we choose to accept it as a pathway to His heart, it becomes something sacred.
But the point is that I want my spiritual power to be stronger than my frail human power. I want my heavenly resources to be as readily available as my earthly ones. I want to strengthen my praying voice and my discerning ears. I want to nourish my journey toward wisdom and heighten my awareness of His spirit.
Yet I do not want to fast anymore. I am tired of feeling hungry and cold. I want to be comfortable. Now.
I ask myself: Is it worth it to go another minute, another hour, another night? What if I just stopped, having come this far already? But–what if in that one more minute of denial I grow one fraction of an inch closer to the heart of my creator? What if in one more hour of hunger I grow a millimeter more self-controlled? What if going to bed hungry tonight causes me to wake up with an ounce more of humility? Do the minuscule gains outweigh the consuming discomfort?
I can’t know how God measures it. Against the backdrop of infinity, it could mean nothing or everything. But the wonder of it, truly, is that between the temptation and the decision to remain steadfast, a new person is created – each denial means a new version of me, one a millimeter more faithful, a centimeter stronger, an inch more like Jesus. Can you even imagine so many miracles, 100 times a day–50 times this hour!
In choosing comfort I remain the same, but when I let go of it, I open the door for the mighty power of God to create a new me. I’m so grateful to be part of this body of Christ and to be led in this journey.
Meet our guest blogger:
Betsy Eckert has been attending Brentwood since her family moved here three years ago. She has been married to her husband, Brian, for 23 years and they have three daughters–Kallen, 21; Annsley, 18; and Ellie, 15. At Brentwood, Betsy serves on the setup team with Brian and their youngest daughter, Ellie. She is also a marathon runner and partner in business with her husband.