I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
I am not at a time or place in my life where I have felt the ability to engage in serious and lengthy fasting. I suppose no one has ever really felt that they were well-equipped to fast, to take up any sort of ascetic practice for that matter. Unless such practices are made into fads they are completely counter-intuitive and rebel against a nature that constantly seeks satisfaction. It seems odd and difficult to understand that we, as Christians, should feel the need to create ‘self chosen suffering’ when we live in a world where suffering is unavoidable. Why choose not to eat out of abundance while others cannot eat out of poverty?
Yet the Lenten season is a time set aside for the practice of fasting. It may be viewed as a time of solidarity with the poor and the weak of the world. God, however, scoffs at such half-hearted reasoning in Isaiah 58, calling out the two-facedness of His people’s pious practice. What then? Fasting is not the avenue through which we meet God. This mindset begins to strip Christ’s suffering of its meaning. Rather, the period of fasting is meant to reflect that which Christ’s suffering reveals to us: heartfelt vulnerability and vigorous trust. Job’s words of assurance could not have come apart from the recognition of who he is in relationship to God, a recognition viewed through the lens of his suffering.
Fasting, then, serves as this ultimate reminder of the ways in which we try to avoid true suffering. Fasting must become a time of preparation so that when life inevitably gives suffering, we approach with a mind set on Christ rather than comfort.
~ Ben Gibson