Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2006
I fast to receive God's Miracle
A full belly tempts one to exalt themselves
- Design Pics photo
As I journey through the desert, I am better able to give fitting thanks and praise to God, as Jesus did.
By JANET KLASSON
Special to the WCR
"He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Acouple of years ago, just before Lent, I took the bold step of asking God what to give up for Lent. The next word that popped into my head was "complaining." That surprised me, not just that God would actually answer my question - and rather quickly, I might add.
But what really surprised me was the implication that God thought I complained too much. I didn't think I complained much at all. Did I? Let me tell you, those 40 days opened my eyes - just try not complaining for 40 days. It wasn't long before I began to realize the depth of my own ingratitude.
As I pondered the above reading, I thought about how the Israelites complained to God in the wilderness, how God let them go hungry to test them, how he then fed them with the finest bread and quenched their thirst with sweet water from a rock.
The above verse tells us that their hunger was meant to inspire contemplation of the word of God.
Instead, they complained.
It was meant to prepare them to witness the miracle of the bread. But yet again, Moses had to remind them of all God had done for them.
It was meant "in the end, to do (them) good" (verse 16). But, like so many of us, they were blind to the work of God in the dry and hungry times.
Then Moses strongly admonished the Israelites, warning them not to exalt themselves by complaining.
In reading this, I was reminded again why I need this time of penance. Unless I know hunger, I cannot truly contemplate the word. When my belly is full, I am tempted to exalt myself. I begin to believe that what I have comes through my own efforts and I complain when I do not receive all I feel entitled to.
I cannot give thanks for what I have not acknowledged as gift. Self-fulfilled, I leave no room for the Word of God to make its home in me and give me abundant life.
Jesus knew this well and made a point of showing us how to fast and pray, how to contemplate the divine, and how to give thanks to God for all things, even hunger and dryness.
What I learn, then, is that I need to fast. Through fasting, the temptation to exalt myself is displaced by gratitude for all God's gifts.
The imperfection of my fasting shows me how little I am capable of on my own; it allows the seed of humility to sprout and grow.
Fasting prepares my heart for the miracle of the Bread.
The Lord has done all this "in the end, to do (me) good." He always intended to feed my hunger with the Word and the Bread, and to quench my thirst with springs of living water.
I wish I could say that I no longer complain to God. I do, but I am more aware of it now.
The Lenten season gives me the dryness I need to be able to reflect on all that God has done for me. Then, as I journey through the desert, I am better able to give fitting thanks and praise to God, as Jesus did.