“Man does not live on bread alone.” These were the words Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 while he was fasting for forty days.
Can you imagine fasting from food for forty days? What is the longest amount of time you have gone without food? With forty days in the background of Matthew 4, perhaps twenty-four hours doesn’t seem so difficult.
And yet it is. Perhaps fasting is difficult not just because of the hunger pains you might feel by going without food for an entire day; but more so because of what food often means to us.
Justin Earley writes in The Common Rule, “We eat to try to fill our emptiness. This is why fasting is mentioned so often in the Bible. Fasting is a way to resist the original sin of trying to eat our way to happiness and to force ourselves to look to God for our fullness.”
I like "comfort” food as much as the next person, especially in the cold winter months. But isn’t it interesting that we associate “comfort” with food? It is not to say that food is not to be enjoyed. It is! And, we do!
But often we turn to food to “fill us.” And we are not just talking about the filling of our bellies. Often, we “crave” food as a source of happiness or to medicate ourselves from the troubles of life.
Consequently, fasting reminds us “to look to God for our fullness.” When Satan tempted a hungry Jesus to turn the rocks into bread he said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Or, as Jesus said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
So, when you think about fasting, don’t just think of the mechanics of it, going without food for a day. Instead, consider what it is meant to do. It is meant to remind you that only God can satisfy your deepest hunger. Only God can satisfy your desires and longings. God is the source of true comfort.
Give it a try. Start with a meal…then two…then an entire day.
The pang of hunger is a good reminder that man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The pang of hunger will also remind you that as you suffer the feeling of hunger, there are people all over the world who are suffering. This will help you pray for the needs around you and to reach out to be a source of “food” for the one who “hungers” for relief.
The pang of hunger will teach you how to live with self-control as you learn to say “no” to food and “yes” to God.
Or as the popular slogan puts it…“no pain, no gain.”