Today is day 14 of the 40-day sugar fast. The last post explained why I’m fasting. This post is about how.
Fasting By Faith & For Faith
Yesterday a friend who’s fasting with me asked, What’s one thing you’re learning? In typical Abigail fashion, I proceeded to give her five. Then I thought of two more. They’re not profound or super-spiritual, nor are they universal. They may not be true for you. But still I’d like to share.
Because this fast was borne of faith. Faith that God does indeed satisfy the hungry soul with good things
). And that whoever comes to Jesus will not hunger, and whoever believes in him will not thirst
(John 6:35). But that sugar sates my flesh so my spirit doesn’t hunger, and that I go to sweets (and salty treats and Facebook feeds) to fill hunger that Christ wants to fill and he alone can satisfy.
This fast was from faith, but pray it also leads to greater faith. I’m sharing these with so that you will be encouraged that God can use the loaves and fish you offer up- our desserts and sweets- to nourish others. That we may be strengthened and mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine (Romans 1:12).
So, please consider sharing your experience, whether mundane or triumphant. Your comment is most welcome.
7 Lessons, 14 Days In
1. It’s easier to fast when food is out of reach.
The word *easier makes me wince a little because fasting isn’t supposed to be easy. Maybe possible is the right word. Because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Therefore watch and pray. (Matthew 26:41)
Some temptations we fight head on
. We take up the shield of faith and wield the sword of the Word. But other passions- we flee
. The end of 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Purging chocolate from the house has made this
possible. It’s been a way out
. So don’t expect to see me at Dairy Queen in the next few weeks.
2. Old habits die hard.
I knew this. But I’m learning it in a new way, a really physical way. When a surprise batch of my mother-in-law’s frosted sugar cookies appeared in front of me last week, I grabbed one and on autopilot, took a bite, completely forgetting I was on Day 10 of a sugar fast.
The second the frosting hit my tongue, I remembered, humbled. Romans 7:15 popped into my head, I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Not at all that I hate the cookies- the opposite is true. But it’s not the season. Only that my response to seeing them was to take and eat, without thought, and without thanks. But there is grace for that
3. Substitutes don’t force me to deal with my heart.
And my heart is what this fast is all about. I think we know this, about substitutes. Because we trade obsessions, and compulsive eating is more common than we may think.
I just heard about a heroin addict who broke free of that evil and got hooked on cupcakes and candy instead. He never learned to handle the pain inside and now all the sugar is ballooning his waistline and seriously hurting his heart. That’s why I won’t let Stevia sweetened pecans replace my dark chocolate almonds. But truth be told, peanuts and popcorn keep trying to fill void. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, or with sugar. All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Cor. 6:12). I get trading obsessions. But I need to take my hungry hollowness to God.
4. I anticipate the feast more because of the fast.
For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven, the Teacher said
and the Byrds sang. Jesus Christ did both. He explained in Matthew 9:15 that while his disciples weren’t fasting when he was with them, they would fast when He, the Bridegroom, was taken away.
It is time for a 40-day sugar fast, but the season for feasting will come. And when it does, it will be that much more of a treat. I admit, I’m really looking forward to breaking fast on February 10th. How much more we should we be looking to the return of Bridegroom and the marriage supper of the Lamb?
5. Rich food is more satisfying.
Jim and I redeemed a gift certificate last week to a local bistro. It was more gourmet than our dining out norm. Roasted olives, sourdough with salted butter, lobster bisque, and blackened salmon hit the spot.
Usually I crave ice cream after a dinner out, but the richness of our meal made the sweetness- and the after-dinner snacking- easy to forgo. That made me think of a fighter verse
my friend quotes when she’s tempted by food, My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.
When we fill up on the rich food, we won’t crave fillers as much.
6. Hunger pangs can be pleasant pain.
says we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.
Part of our mind renewal, I think, is to learn to reframe the pain. Because we know that to grow strong- physically or spiritually- we must recognize good pain, by which I mean productive pain
. Hunger pains become good pains when I face them with faith that God is producing good in me through them.
Here’s what I mean: Not caving to my sugar craving tears down the idol of food as comforter. It makes space that the God of all comfort will fill (2 Cor 1:3). Then He gets the glory. But when ice cream soothed my after-dinner unease or chocolate bars got me through writing difficult IEP’s, ice cream and chocolate got the credit, the glory. Sweets were my refuge and retreat.
7. Fasting from sugar helps me pray.
I’ve written before
about how prayer can be more like a spare tire than a steering wheel. I don’t want it to be. Fasting helps me this way.
When that emptiness or antsy-ness or hunger pains come and I go to God first and say, Fill me, help me, He does. When that happens the Giver, Living Bread, and the God of Comfort get the glory. That’s what I meant, in #6 by pleasant pain: hunger pangs can be productive.
So how’s this 40-day sugar fast going?
There are still 25 days to go. But this morning I did something new when my stomach growled at me. Two weeks ago I would have grabbed a few chocolate almonds and last week some peanuts. But today, I let the rumbling be a quiet call to pray.
I didn’t drop to my knees or fall prostrate. I just closed my eyes for five seconds and prayed, Lord, I want to know you more. Please fill me.
That’s it. Then I did the laundry. But I did it a little more full of Christ and a little more happy in Jesus.
Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.