Power in Weakness
Hunger makes you weak, but purposely going hungry is a powerful experience.
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In a few hours, I will have my first "normal" meal in five days. My family and I drastically reduced both the variety and quantity of our diet as we participated in Celebration of Hope, an annual event at our church.
Part of this month-long focus on the poor includes a modified fast. The purpose of this "Five Day Food and Water Challenge" is to identify with the poor, who eat this way all the time. We also take the money we would have spent on food this week and donate it to purchase vegetable seeds, which we send to Zimbabwe. Another part of Celebration of Hope is to pack the seeds—our church packed 500,000 seed packs! During this week, we prayed for the hungry, and got just a little glimpse into the reality they live for a lifetime, not just a few days.
The diet we consumed this week (mostly rice and beans) is similar to what many people in the developing world eat—although I think my serving sizes were likely more generous than what they receive. Many children around the globe eat only one meal a day, not three.
Fasting as a spiritual discipline gets us in touch with deeper things—truths we can't always access when we numb ourselves with food. We are both more highly aware, and a bit off our game—tired and fuzzy-headed. Anyone who says the poor ought to just "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" ought to try eating like this for a while.
We tend to think that this practice connects us with those in the developing world. But there are people in every country in the world who go to bed hungry on a regular basis. Even in my middle-class suburb, there are homeless and poor who regularly run low on food. They may not eat only rice and beans, but they are hungry.
Consequently, there may be children in your ministry who sometimes don't have enough to eat—especially in this economy. They may seem to be doing okay. But maybe the kid who acts out in your small group is the one who hasn't had a decent meal for a couple of days. Speaking from experience, hunger makes you cranky. Are there children you see every week who might need not only the bread of the Word of God, but also actual bread?
Jesus said "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat." So fasting like this (where you eat enough to sustain you, but not enough to satisfy) will not only help you identify with the poor, it can help you identify with Jesus.
Consider trying a food challenge, even for a day or two. And use that time to pay close attention to the children you serve, to notice both their spiritual and physical needs. Look for opportunities to share your food with the hungry, and in so doing, feed your soul.
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