Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Few Lessons That I have Learned by FAILING at a Fast

Now is the time of year when everyone wants to talk and read about successful fasting techniques and the kinds of lessons you learn while fasting. I'm going to engage in the exact opposite discussion by talking about some of the things that I have learned by unsuccessful fasting and what can be learned after you fail at it. :P

1. Your inability to keep your outward disciplines has no effect on your eternal standing before God... and neither does your ability to temporarly obserive such disciplines. On account of Christ, you remain an heir of the Kingdom of God by grace alone through faith alone. You have failed in even the simplest things and remain His beloved child in spite of what you do or do not do rather than because of it. Even when you fail in greater things, the promise of the forgiveness of sins and heaven are not denied to you. At the point of failure is where the Gospel is at its clearest.

2. Your fallen nature is such that you cannot keep this simple devotion for a short period of time... where then is your boasting in things which are far more difficult or impossible? If any man boasts, let him boast in the Lord.

3. While you were being successful at your fast, you felt pride at your accomplishment which was replaced by disappointment and shame when you failed. That entire time while you fasted, you habitually engaged in sins far more heinous and injurious to faith. Why do you not lament them as severly as this abandonment of your simple outward training?

4. Your lack of dedication has not cut you off from God's revelation to man. You have made a concerted effort to exercise a discipline and failed... and yet God continues to speak to you in His Word and from the mouth of your pastor, God continues to give you the forgiveness of your sins in His word of Absolution, and continues to draw you to Himself through the mysteries of the Holy Sacraments. He remains steadfast and true to His promises to you even when you cannot keep the promises and resolutions that you make to yourself. Contrast this assurance with the vein worship of the mystics who wrongly think that they must prove themselves worthy before they can be truly enlightened and uplifted by the Holy Spirit.

5. God's loving blessings to you in this world are so complete, lovely, and abundant that even His gift of daily bread is a precious thing to you that you hardly call to mind... a gift that you do not realize how much you enjoy until you attempt to do without it. It is hard to understand the great hights of blessing that God has given you in this life until you attempt to forgo a few of them. You are so blessed that you have food and simple delights that you must constantly ignore in order to observe any kind of fast. God's bountiful riches are given to you in such abundence that they bombard you like an annoyance when you attempt to forego them. How can you then complain about your lot in life with such profound and bountiful gifts from the Heavenly Father?

6. You could not do without a few meals by choice. Imagine the suffering of those who involuntarily go without food on a regular basis through poverty or famine. Imagine the horror you would know if you could not end your fasting as easily as you did. Realizing this, you can now recognize that you have the power in this modern age to help your fellow man to feel as physically satisfied as you do now... through charity and the feeding of the poor around the world.

7. The hunger that you suffered during the fast is nothing compared to the hunger of the soul who desprives himself of God's Word and Sacraments. You cannot experience the former for a few days without great suffering, but--in your sin--you can ignore the latter for extended periods of time and actually feel better about yourself and your situation. You are hard pressed to ever skip a meal, but skipping church or family devotion is no big deal at all. When you are starving for food it as though no feast is large enough for your eyes... and yet the spiritual feast which God offers to halt your spiritual starvation quickly becomes tiresome, boring, repetitive, and too much for your tastes.

No comments: