I missed another day. I’ll recover my schedule eventually. I hope.
Anyway. I kinda want to focus on Isaiah 58: 6-8. God makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t really care about your showy observance. What he cares about is your heart. He doesn’t care that you fasted dramatically. He cares that you got by on less so that you could help out a few people in need.
See, I get that Christ himself calls the Pharisees ‘whited sepulchers,’ and that he talks about praying in public versus praying sincerely, but this is a passage that I think gets overlooked. At the very least, I haven’t heard a single sermon on it that I can recall.
I’m not sure it’s come up in any study on fasting, either, and I think it should. I’m only just now beginning to form my thoughts on the matter, considering I only just now read the passage, but it seems to me that this sort of self-denial for the sake of others is a significant form of sacrifice.
I’m not saying that all fasting should be accompanied by giving, but why not? If you give up coffee for Lent, why not take that money and donate it instead of just pocketing it? If you give up tv for a month, why not donate that time to a shelter or food bank instead of using it for alternate entertainment?
Honestly, fasting is still something I’m working through as a spiritual discipline on it’s own. I think I’m beginning to wrap my head around the concept of ‘making space’ for deeper devotion, deeper focus. Using the depravation to open yourself up to the Spirit. This passage, though, this passage adds a whole new dynamic, a social dynamic to fasting. Perhaps it isn’t entirely about the vertical relationship. Perhaps the humility of depravation is also meant to open our eyes to the unavoidable depravation suffered by those around us on a daily basis.
In fasting, we choose to go without for a time, but there are those for whom it is no choice.
Just some thoughts that are by no means complete. This passage is going to sit with me for a while.