My 19yo son trotted downstairs with a plate in his hand containing a homemade burger on a bagel with a slice of cheese. It’s only 11:57 p.m. and I wanted to wait until midnight before I took a bite. So we chatted a bit about how it felt to be hungry. In our home we have two refrigerators (with freezers), one large freezer and two pantries. There are only four of us living here but I frequently host people in my home, as well as randomly give food to the poor. And we still seem to have a constant supply of food.
Among many things spiritual or otherwise, fasting reminds us how much we have and how much others do without. It reminds us that there are people everywhere who do without, and even if they have food, we oftentimes eat like kings compared to their meager meals. The World Health Organization breaks up categories of hunger this way: one-third eat well, one-third are malnourished and one-third is starving. Since you began reading this article, at least 200 people have died of starvation and over four million will die this year. I am sure that with the recent catastrophe in Haiti, those numbers are on the rise.
It is difficult knowing why we are here and they are there; why we are among the well-fed in a world where two-third struggle and starve. But I am convinced that while God allows some of us to have comforts others do not, He certainly does not mean that we covet these comforts and keep them as idols. Jesus himself commands us in Matthew to share our crust of bread, for if we have done so to our brethren, we have done so to our Lord. I wonder how many saints working among the inured and poor in Haiti have shared their lunch, their water, and gone without for the sake of the starving.
While we pondered these things, my food sits and waits. There is no one to give it to, and to reject it would mean waste. But I remembered that just tonight a homeless lady I call Mary sat in my family room as I served her some stew, listened to her struggles and gave her some advice about her son. She happily ate every morsel as we visited. Somehow food brings us together. It’s a universal thing we all need. In the book, A Christmas Carol, we read as Scrooge eats his meal alone, night after night. Charles Dickens not only paints a picture of a selfish and greedy man, but a very lonely man. Food not only keeps us living, but it keeps us linked to one another in fellowship. And as we deny food for the sake of one starving or for the sake of prayer, we are linked in a truly spiritual sense to our Heavenly Father.
My son and I closed out the day by praying together for Haiti and giving God the thanks and glory that He truly desires this nation be fruitful once again. We look forward to the rebuilding with joy and hope. May the prayers continue forth; may the giving never stop; may the hands and feet not grow weary.
It’s midnight. Time to break the fast.