As I write this, my stomach growls. For the fourth year in a row, our family is participating in what our church calls “the Five-Day Challenge,” a modified fast in which we eat a diet similar to that of most of the world’s poor: small portions of oatmeal, rice and beans, the occasional tortilla or handful of veggies. We add a small amount of chicken to our dinner portion.
Last night—Day Two—we got home late. My husband sat at the table, waiting for me to make dinner. I felt angry and resentful, stirring the beans, which overcooked and turned to mush. We got into a silly argument. My anger seethed and boiled over like the pot of beans. I am ashamed to admit that at one point I yelled at my husband, “Get off my case! Just give me some grace!”
Hunger makes you cranky. So this morning, I tried to remember why I engage in this annual modified fast. Isaiah 58 says we fast to share our food with the hungry, which is the idea behind this challenge—we take the money we would spend on groceries and donate it to provide food for the poor.
Fasting provides Jesus a little housecleaning opportunity, to clear away the clutter in your soul. This morning, I read Isaiah 58:4, and wept into my oatmeal. My fasting had led to quarreling. I was still trying to depend on my own strength to get through the day. I need Jesus to help me. I need to depend on Him like I typically depend on food.
FAITH STEP: Try this challenge for only one day, where you eat a cup of plain oatmeal for breakfast, and a small portion of rice and beans for lunch and dinner. Read and meditate on all of Isaiah 58 during the day. Take the money you would have spent on meals for that day and donate it to a food pantry.
Contributed by Keri Wyatt Kent
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