The Failed Fast
James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you
As a Christian I find myself attempting to fast more and more because I desire to learn and experience more of God through fasting. There’s many examples of fasting in the Bible and I believe it’s something that we as Christians should happily partake in.
Today I was fasting because it’s Yom Kippur which is considered one of the holiest days of the year for Jewish Culture. Although I am not Jewish by birth, I desire to grow and learn more of the culture and what it means to me and my beliefs in Jesus Christ.
The plan for the day was to only drink water during my fast. I had overcome the urge to purchase a casual Wednesday morning coffee, I bypassed breakfast and lunch, I headed to the chiropractor for an adjustment, and on my way out I stopped in at the local freshly made chocolate store. (Don’t ask me why, there was no logical reason for me to step in there.)
Of course the chocolatier offered me a free sample and I didn’t want to be rude. So I graciously accepted and bit into a delicious nutty covered piece of chocolate. A few more minutes passed and I found myself waiting at the check-out with 6 varieties of chocolates in a little baggy.
The chocolates were gone before my car made it home.
I ‘failed’ my fast.
And that wasn’t the first time I’d done so. I’ve had successful fasts, and I’ve had unsuccessful fasts.
I used to really beat myself up over these moments when I broke a fast too early for no reason other than lack of self-control. I’d be disappointed in myself that I couldn’t even make it 24 hours without putting food in my system. But then I felt like God still spoke to me and shared some ideas about fasting.
Whether you succeed or fail at a fast, you still tried to fast. Your heart was still there to draw near to God. That matters. As humans, we aren’t going to get it right every time. We are made perfect through Christ, not through our own actions. The point of the fast wasn’t to be perfect, the point was to draw near to God. Taking the action of fasting and starting the process itself is a step towards drawing near to God. That’s what matters. God doesn’t send the fasting police out and rip apart your life because you failed at fasting. He loves you regardless and is glad for the steps you did take.
Additionally, even when you ‘fail’ a fast it highlights the fact that we humans make mistakes. We aren’t perfect. I was reminded of Jesus in John 8 when he said to the Pharisees who were accusing the woman of adultery, “He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” None of those men dared to stay and throw a stone because they knew they had sin in their own life as well.
A failed fast can be equally humbling in the same way. I can extend more grace to others because I understand what it means to fail at something and not be able to exert self-control over my own body. Fasting keeps you humble and reminds you that we have weaknesses.
At the end of the day we are made strong in Christ and we were made for relationship with God. Whether we have a perfect fast, or we stumble along the way, its okay. God still loves us and He is glad to be there as we take the first steps in any fast.
Don’t be discouraged when you feel like you’ve failed. Keep drawing near to God and He will be faithful to draw near to you.