My experiences with fasting from something during Lent never quite seemed to fulfill the objective. Giving up Diet Coke gave me caffeine withdrawl headaches, but that didn’t make me more faith-full. Putting aside sweets made me think about them, not about God’s presence in my life. Turning off the TV gave me more time to read books on faith-related topics, and that was good… but I still felt like something was missing.
Then yesterday, for the first time, someone showed me a whole new perspective that changed everything.
Lisa, who’s been reading this blog for about a year as she and her husband struggle with infertility, told me that she is fasting from FEAR. Immediately, I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s how fasting draws you closer to Christ. That’s how this season can be worshipful and a great blessing.’ It was a complete epiphany moment for me – and I think it has huge implications for you.
Here’s what I mean….
1) Fasting from fear breaks your addiction and frees you from constant anxiety. Fear is addictive. It reinforces the craving for information and control. And, because you can never get enough, that just reinforces your fear, which makes you want more information and control. When you can’t get it, that reinforces the desperate urgency that makes you feel so afraid. Now, look at you – you’re caught in a death spiral that’s undermining your faith and confident hope. Fasting from fear can help you break out of this addictive cycle and free yourself from constant anxiety.
2) Fasting from fear starves your stress habit and feeds your hunger for spiritual sustenance . Like most people struggling with infertility, you’ve unconsciously developed the habit of monitoring those around you. Who’s getting pregnant? Who’s flaunting their fertility and adding to your stress? Who’s supporting you, and who’s making your life harder? Who’s become a parent, and who’s still TTC? Aren’t you tired of filling your mind with this useless data? It doesn’t matter to your journey, and it won’t change your outcome. What could make a difference, though, is feeding your spirit something that strengthens you for this journey.
3) Fasting from fear draws you nearer to God, rather than driving you away from Him. Initially, you may have felt inclined to pull back from the God you thought was refusing to answer your prayers for a baby. Over time, you may have felt confused, hurt, angry… and resentful. If you look deeper, you’re likely to see that fear has slowly driven a wedge between you and the only One with the power to insure you will become a parent. Fear of what? That God is withholding, that He is punishing you, that you deserve this. How do you change that perspective? Fast from fear and refuse to feed those worries. God is not punishing you, He will not refuse to forgive anything you’ve ever done, and He is not delighting in your suffering. Set aside those fears, draw nearer to Him, and – scripture promises – He will draw near to you.
4) Fasting from fear claims God’s promise, “I am with you always,” and fights off the enemy. Fear is an open door to God’s enemy. It invites him to whisper worries into your thoughts, to plant seeds of doubt in your mind, and to generate a harvest of anxiety, self-pity, isolation and despair. How can you fight stealth tactics like those when you are already exhausted? Claim God’s promise to be with you always, put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and fight off the one who hopes to talk you into choices that lead to a faith-destroying defeat.
5) Fasting from fear is a choice to be obedient (“Do not be afraid”), which always leads to blessings. God’s commands to us are part of His plan for us. Telling us not to be afraid is another way of saying, “Trust Me.” Why is that important? Because harboring fear causes you to focus more on your feelings than your faith. Fear tells you to trust your worries over God’s promises, and that makes it impossible to trust the God who longs to bless you with His very best in His perfect timing. Scripture makes clear: those willing to believe God’s promises receive them. Fasting from fear is a choice to be obedient to the command “Do not be afraid,” and to trust that what is impossible with man is possible with God.
6) Fasting from fear glorifies God because it affirms that the worries of this world are not all there is. Confident hope is an expression of genuine faith. It is a choice to look away from everything around you that says, ‘You could fail,’ and toward the promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes, this journey is difficult, heartbreaking, faith-challenging and, at times, relationship-threatening. But God has promised never to give you more burden than you can bear. Keep your eyes on Him and you will find a place of peace in the midst of this chaotic, disheartening, maddening journey. You will find comfort and strength, and in the process, you will honor the One who has promised, “He who honors me, him will I honor.”
7) Most importantly, fasting from fear lets you get in agreement with God that there is always cause for hope. The season of Lent is about endurance and obedience as a path to God’s best. What a great focus for the infertility journey! Yes, it can seem like a marathon that requires more endurance than you think you can muster. And yes, sometimes obedience conflicts with your original plan. But, if you continue to follow the path God lays out for you, there is always cause for great hope.
So many reasons to fast from fear… and this isn’t even a complete list! Do you want to renew your faith, strengthen your hope, and anticipate good news with calm confidence? Follow Lisa’s amazing example. Fast from FEAR. It could change everything.