Fasting and Feasting
February 16, 2023 | Melissa Riggs
“Make sure you go out and celebrate.”
My mom has spoken these words to me more than once in my adult life, but I remember them one time specifically. It had been a long and difficult season for Jim and me, and amid great heartache, the Lord blessed Jim with a new job. The job was certainly an answer to prayer, but there were still many other things weighing us down. Celebrating seemed disingenuous and difficult. I wasn’t sure I could muster the strength to smile and laugh and pretend that everything was fine just because one part of our situation had improved. Of course, pretending is not at all what God calls us to do. He does, however, call us to celebrate.
Being commanded to celebrate is a relatively new concept to me. Only in the last five or so years have I started to take it seriously as a spiritual discipline, and I’m discovering that it is one we as Christians aren’t always very comfortable with. It’s ironic, really. We have more to celebrate than anyone else, and yet we are often so aware of the sin or spiritual battles we face that we feel unable to take time out – or call up the strength – to mark what God is doing and has done. (I think the enemy likes it that way. If we can stay joyless, we will be a lot less effective for the Kingdom!)
We have spent the last thirty-nine days focusing on a different spiritual discipline we as Christians aren’t totally comfortable with: Fasting. This 40-day fast has been both a corporate and an individual experience, and the lessons God has taught us have been very personal. Some of us have experienced beautiful, transformational time with God. Others of us have wrestled with sin and flesh. Still others have had surprising grief. A few people have told me about difficult things that have happened during these forty days and how the fast was very timely as they cried out to God and worked through pain, fear, or heartache. Unfortunately, those things won’t just go away at the conclusion of the fast tomorrow.
Depending on where you are, the thought of celebrating tomorrow may not sound “fun” or easy. Or perhaps it sounds easy enough, but it is hard to make it a priority with so many other things needing your time and attention. Either way, scripture tells us that we are to remember what God has done. Part of that remembering is celebrating. His faithfulness and goodness are not dependent on our circumstances – or on us at all. Whether we experienced highs or lows, whether we were faithful and well-disciplined in “putting off” or “putting on,” whether we feel transformed by the experience or not, He is faithful and worthy of our praise. He has moved in power and reminded us of His wisdom, His beauty, His glory, His holiness. He has shown up, even when we haven’t. Whether this has been a sweet time or a sobering one, the God of the universe met intimately with each of us in these last almost-seven weeks, and that is most definitely worth celebrating!
Tomorrow night we will gather from 7:00-8:00pm at the church. We will reflect on what God has done, and we will give Him all the praise. I hope you can join us, even if you didn’t participate in the fast, because giving Him honor and glory is always worth it, and hearing stories of how He has moved is sure to unite and inspire us as His people.
Jim and I did go out and celebrate that new job. I don’t remember a lot about the meal or what we talked about, but I know that we took time to mark His goodness, and I’m glad we did. (Plus, I’m guessing we had cake. Celebrations, especially after a fast, are always better with cake!) Whatever it looks like for you, make sure you, too, go out and celebrate.