As many of you know, Pres. Annie and I were pretty sick with COVID last month. While we are thankful to God that we had no major respiratory issues or hospital visits, it was nonetheless a miserable ordeal. And it seems to have a lingering effect on our energy.
One of the more unusual symptoms that we faced was the sudden return of latent areas of inflammation throughout our bodies. For instance, my right knee gives me pain once or twice a year for about a week. Suddenly my knee was hurting in that same spot. Same with an on-again-off-again knot in my back. Pres experienced her own version of this. It was as though the coronavirus sought out the places of hidden weakness or chronic pain and specifically targeted those.
This reminded me of fasting, which is on our minds now— since we will begin the Great Fast on Clean Monday, March 7. In the same way that the coronavirus was targeting my body’s weak points and bringing them into the light, so also fasting targets my soul’s weak points and brings them to light. After all, fasting isn’t just about food; it is a spiritual arsenal that seeks out a multitude of our weaknesses. For instance, I may be patient some of the time. I might even think of myself as a patient person. But as soon as the fast begins, I watch as my patience shrivels up and disappears. I become crabby and short-tempered. This isn’t a food issue; it’s a spiritual issue.
Fasting is revelation. Through fasting I have the real me exposed, revealed. Those things that I pretend to have under control show themselves as beyond my control. And that’s OK! It is far better to see reality than to pretend to live in a world of control! As our true selves are revealed through fasting, the real purpose of fasting is also uncovered: repentance. My weakness and sinfulness are exposed so that I can more deeply and more precisely repent. It’s no accident that throughout the Scriptures fasting and repentance are linked. We must keep this link in mind when we struggle through the 40 days.
As we enter the Great Fast this year, let us keep our focus on fasting’s purpose: to reveal your weakness so that you can repent more. Don’t keep your focus just on the food and the abstinence; look for the ways in which these reveal deeper and more latent spiritual flaws in you.
This is the reason that God has given us fasting from the very beginning. He wants to heal us of all our weaknesses, putting His strength where our weakness lies. May God bless us in this spiritual endeavor!