While We Fast for Lent
The period of lent is characterized by fasting, penance and self denial. As a child, fasting was one of the hardest thing to do (maybe it’s still is). I’m a foodie and telling me to go without food is like asking me to not function well. I remember how fasting was so difficult for me then, I didn’t even understand the concept. Then when I’m fasting, the whole world will know.
However, I grew up to understand that there is more to fasting than starving yourself for a few hours. Like the church teaches us, there are so many things you can fast with including abstenance from other things which must not necessarily be food. If you are someone who takes a bottle of beer daily, for instance, you can fast from beer. You should also know that while denying yourself from something relating to money you have to save the money and use it for charity afterwards. Using the beer example, if you abstain from beer for the 40 days of lent, the proper thing is to save the 200 naira for beer daily, it will amount to a substantial amount which you will use for charity after lent. If you abstain from things that you spend money on and do not save that money to spend on charity then the aim has been defeated. If you fast with food but you don’t give the food out but rather save it for when you are done fasting, it makes no sense. Don’t deny yourself food and save it for later when you end of your fasting, give it to a hungry person.
On the other hand, you do not need to show people how you are doing your own fasting. Like the scripture says, your right hand should not know what your left hand is doing. Some of us announce at rooftops when and what we are fasting with. We show it in our act, our character and our relationship with people. For instance someone who is fasting with food will get angry easily, shout at others and will be less tolerant. One who is fasting from taking alcohol will be mad at his friends whenever they call him to hangout with them as usual, “can’t you see I’m fasting for the Lenten season?” he may say. No need to announce to your friends, if they find out by themselves great. You should also try to control your emotions when you are fasting, don’t let the things you denial yourself(as your fasting) get to you. Treat people with respect, don’t get unnecessarily irritated. If you allow your emotions to get the best of you, then the aim of the fasting has been defeated.
So while we fast for lent, fast from things you can do. It must not be food. It can be other things including your behavior and acts. You may decide during the lent to stop some negative acts you do. You may decide to go out of your way to help others. The aim is to deny yourself something. When you do so, you will look at Easter with anticipation, you will feel the season. You will be able to follow Christ closely through his passion, his death and his resurrection.
Meanwhile, Let us not forget that fasting alone cannot take us to heaven, the abode we crave for. Our acts during and after this season matter. Our lives should be true examples of what Christianity is. Don’t fast while you are still bearing grudges against someone. Don’t pretend to be good during lent and rush back to them on Easter Sunday. The aim of the church is that if you change to a good behavior during the Lenten season which lasts for 40 days, you can continue with it after the Lenten season.
Understand the true essence of the Lenten season, attend the stations of the cross at least once a week. If however you cannot join other faithfuls in the church for it, you can do yours at your own private time. Do charity whenever you can. It does not need to be something big. If you wait to have the whole world before you give then you may never get to it. God understands you, he knows what you have, what you can afford and what you can spare. Even the tiniest assistance you give can go a very long way for another person.
So while you fast, remember that there is more to it than jus+ not eating.
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