Food Is Good, but Jesus Is Better



Have you ever tried fasting?  I mean fasting as an intentional step toward a deeper relationship with God or greater dependence on Him.  I understand there are many reasons to intentionally fast – some spiritual in nature and others legitimately not spiritual, like for the purposes of medical lab work.  This blog post is about my experience with an intentional fast for the purpose of depending more on God.  I imagine our experiences will differ, so this blog is not a lesson as much as it is an account.  It is also not a commentary or exegesis of Bible passages about fasting.  It is an expression of my own personal experience and results.

So why did I fast?  I led a study on fasting.  It was the closing session of a series on a healthy spiritual diet.  So, on one hand, I did what a leader should do.  I led by example.  (Leaders:  Our message is superficial if we don’t lead by example.  Enough said.  Different topic.)  But I also fasted to experience firsthand how Jesus, the “Bread of Life,” is better than food (John 6:35).

Jesus is better than food.  That was my premise during my fast.  Whenever I felt hungry, I remembered Jesus is better than food.  Whenever I thought about my fast, I remembered Jesus is better than food.  All throughout my fast, when my mind was in neutral, I still remembered Jesus is better than food.

In Matthew 4:4 (GW), Jesus said, “A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.”  But the funny thing is, during my fast, I didn’t think as much about the words God spoke as I did about how Jesus is wonderful and sufficient, and how grateful I am to be adopted into God’s family and care.  So, I wasn't suffering in utter dependence on God.  I was simply appreciating Him more.

In total, I fasted for 35 hours.  I spent about 12 of those hours asleep, so it wasn’t a great sacrifice, but it was a sacrifice, nonetheless.  I ate nothing during those 35 hours and drank only water.  I could’ve gone longer without food, but I eventually decided to eat.  At 10:00 a.m. while at work, I ate a Fig Newton, and 10 minutes later I drank some coffee.  No salivating anticipation.  No ceremonial pig fest.  Just a cookie and some coffee.

No one at work knew I fasted.  I don’t even know if the members of my Bible study remembered about the fast because I never mentioned it again to them.  My children didn’t know.  And, though I mentioned it in passing, I don’t even think my wife knew until I said, “No thank you,” at dinner time and, more significantly, at dessert time.  I didn’t fast for others to see.  I did it to commune with God, because Jesus is better than food.  There is little reason this type of activity can't happen in secret (Matthew 6:16-18).  (Of course, now my blog readers know I fasted, too.)

Was it uncomfortable?  Did I get hungry?  Not really.  I felt hungry on a few occasions closer to dinner time and afterwards, but I didn’t really experience discomfort until I went to sleep.  Just before sleeping, I had to deal with liquid bowel movements, much like us older folks have enjoyed during colonoscopy preparation.  (Of course, it wasn’t as exaggerated as pre-colonoscopy activities because I drank only water, not that special guzzle drink designed to flush the colon.)  So, since my stomach had just emptied of "solid food," I was hungry when I tried to sleep.

The next morning, however, I felt mostly normal.  I may have been slightly more hungry than usual, but I’m not usually very hungry in the mornings, so I wouldn't even call it hunger.  I went to work on an empty stomach as I would any other day.  I don't normally eat breakfast.  Instead, I snack.  But that morning, I never really got hungry.

So, what was the big take home lesson for me?  Frankly, there wasn’t a grand realization.  It wasn’t a “wow” activity.  And it was certainly not a “Damascus Road” experience.  But I did grow more fond of my Father, Savior, and Comforter.  I spent time pondering how Jesus is better than food.  He knows what it’s like to be hungry.  For 40 days He was tempted in every way by the devil…on an empty stomach!  (See Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.)  In fact, this was the story we studied the day I led a discussion on fasting.  From Jesus’ experience during those 40 days, we learned that a healthy spiritual diet is enhanced by fasting.  We gained two life lessons from that study:
  1. When we commit to God, we will be tempted to quit.
  2. When we lean into God, His character leans into us.
Here’s my conclusion.  We know God meets us where we are, in any situation and heart condition.  For me, leading up to this fast, I was already tracking the idea that Jesus is better than food, and that’s exactly where God met me.  I gained a better appreciation for God and how He is not only enough and sufficient, but offers an abundance of what I need, both physically and spiritually.

God is not only enough, He’s more than enough.
God’s grace is sufficient, but not how we might normally think of sufficiency.
God’s sufficient grace unlocks the door to a life with perfect strength.  (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)
God’s grace is abundantly sufficient.

So, are we ready to fast?  Our experiences may differ.  But, with proper intentions and a commitment to sacrifice, fasting is beneficial, and the benefits are much greater than the sacrifice.  Try it and see if you hunger for more than just food.  And send me an email about your experience.  I’d love to hear about it.

Email your fasting experience to authordlv@att.net



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