“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting…” (Matthew 6:16-18)
A few week ago, I decided to fast for three straight days where I ate no food whatsoever and only drank pure water. At first, my decision to do this was solely motivated by the fact that I had been rather gluttonous over the previous few weeks and was beginning to feel the consequences of that. Yet, I decided on the day I began this fast that I wanted to use the time for a deeper meaning and purpose. You see, my entire life I’ve been provided for by God when it comes to food, and all the other basic necessities as well for that matter. But with food being so critical for sustaining life and with billions of people on this planet, many even right here in Toledo, all going without and starving every single day, I decided to use those 72 hours to think about them. Frankly, I wanted to feel what it might be like to live a day in their shoes by going hungry.
At first, it wasn’t so bad, as that first 24 hours felt more like a cleansing. I did everything I normally would that day including my ritual bathing, doing my chores in and around the house, attending my men’s group, and working with my sponsees in recovery. It wasn’t until the second day though that I really started feeling what it might actually feel like to live a day in the life of someone who goes without food on a regular basis, as it was the second day that I had to cut the grass and do a ton of yard work, which just so happened to also be an exceptionally hot day. And while the water did quench the amount of sweat that poured out of me that day, I must have burned through several thousand calories in the process. So that aching in the stomach that comes from hunger pains? Well, it became so incredibly strong the rest of that day that I really began feeling irritable, cranky, light-headed and weak. But, I did my best to hide that from the rest of the world while I went on with my daily activities including running the 12 Step meeting I put on at one of the local crisis centers. As I sat there in that meeting that night, my stomach squeezed into itself and actually hurt quite a bit from how hungry I was. Yet, I pushed on through and continued drinking nothing but water and by the end of that 2nd day of fasting, it was then I truly found a much higher level of compassion for all those who regularly go without food. How do they go through this every single day I wondered? It was that thought that I carried through my final 24 hours of fasting and in the end, after losing close to seven pounds, it made me seriously reflect on the billion or so people on this planet who are severely undernourished.
The fact is, hunger is a very real problem on this planet still and I often think far too many of us take for granted our own cupboards, refrigerators, and freezers always being stocked with so many things to consume when countless people are going without even a single cup of rice in a day. I’m thankful I had such a strong reminder of that during this 3-day fast and will definitely remember this the next time I find myself complaining about being hungry…
Lord, thank you for always providing me plenty when it comes to food and for helping to remind me during my 72-hour fast what it might feel to live in the shoes of those who go without it on a regular basis. Please forgive me for any ignorance I’ve had in the past when it comes to the world hunger problem and I pray for guidance on how I can make more of a difference with this global epidemic.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson