I had someone ask me, “Pastor, how do I know that I am doing the fast correctly?” Normally, I think before I speak, but at times I just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind…this was one of those times.
I said, “If fasting comes with some hardships then perhaps, we’re doing something right.”
I’ve thought about that response since then and there’s no question I could have given a more robust, biblically-laden response. However, I do believe it’s true that pain in the offering means something is working.
I’ve been laser-focused on my personal health recently. I’m taking vitamins and eating smarter. I’ve dropped several pounds and I’m working my way toward my ultimate goal.
Now what has really helped me in these past few months is adding resistance training and weight lifting along with my running. It’s easy to say that now…but it wasn’t that long ago I was sore daily because of the exercises. My arms hurt, my legs hurt, my neck hurt. Everything hurt! My sweet wife told me, “Wes, that’s how you know it’s working; it’s hurting.”
Things that we strive for and reach for by their very nature stretch us. Often the more we reach and the bigger the goal the greater the struggle will be to achieve it. One thing I always say is that “If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it.” And I know that what you are doing in your fast is not easy. It’s hard. But it’s supposed to be hard.
One thing that is hard during a fast is not being able to consume what you want when you want. I’m not going to lie… I want meat. RED MEAT! I want a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll…like really bad. I’m sure if Daniel had met Little Debbie, the struggle would have been real for him too. I know it’s not an earth-shattering need…BUT I would love a cup of black coffee too!
Let me give you some pointers that help me when I hear an Oatmeal Crème Pie calling my name:
- I stop and pray. I remind my flesh that the purpose of the fast is to deny myself of things and replace them with things that honor God. It is truly remarkable what happens when you have a midnight sugar craving during a fast and instead of indulging the temptation, you get on your knees and pray.
- I remind myself that the craving is real. The struggle is REAL. And the desire to fulfill that craving will not control me. Determine in your mind and also in your heart that you will not break your commitment to God. I literally ask the Lord to fill me with His presence during difficult times of the fast.
- I drink lots of water. Water is very filling and you can trick your stomach into being full and satisfy that craving simply by consuming water.
- I focus on what I have instead of what I can’t have. If I simply focus on things I want but can’t have, then those thoughts will consume me. I start thinking things like… “Well, if Daniel had Oatmeal Crème Pies would he have eaten just one?” What I have learned though is to focus on what you CAN have INCLUDING the filling of the Spirit. Fasting is not about food. It’s about the heart. Surrender your wants and desires to the Lord.
Yes, the struggle is real, BUT the pain in the offering tells us that what we are doing is working. I don’t know when God will move in the situations you and I are trusting Him in. I don’t know when the goal will be met. However, I do know that God is glorified when we deny ourselves of earthly things and replace them with Heavenly things. And our Father will honor your sacrifice.
I will see you Sunday as we focus on young David and how God prepared his heart well-before he was promoted and established as King of Israel. Remember, it’s about the heart.
Don’t Give Up!