As we consider the season of Lent in coming weeks, let us remember that fasting is not only refraining from eating, but can take other forms as well, especially ones that bless others.
“Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7)
I think there is a place for literally fasting for God’s people. Jesus Himself fasted and assumed His own followers would fast. We’re not to make a show of it however.
Isaiah puts another spin on fasting though. Instead of fasting for fasting sake, or to make us feel good about ourselves, Isaiah puts a positive spin on fasting. Instead of simply depriving ourselves of bread, why not provide it to those in need?
According to Isaiah, God counts provision for the poor as fasting. We might deprive ourselves of a Netflix subscription for example so we can invest in food and clothes for the needy. To call for people to house the homeless seems a big ask, yet Isaiah insists that this kind of thing is spiritual fasting.
Our gut reaction when we see a homeless person might be to cross by on the other side of the road. Yet they are flesh and blood like us. Not only so, but they have souls and spirits. Should we treat them like animals?
‘O Lord, help us to fast as You would have us do, not simply for show, but to bless the needy. For the glory of Your name, amen’