During the Lenten season, you choose to give up something in order to replicate the experience Jesus Christ had in the wilderness during his 40 days of temptation and struggle. He experienced humanity through urges and needs that we deal with every day. We, as human beings, are looking to purge ourselves of some of these worldly needs, in order to move beyond the simplistic notions of what the material world teaches us about humanity. Instead, it is in looking toward Christ and his father, God, that we can truly discover what exactly it means to be human through a Lenten fast.
Despite giving something up for Lent, it can be very challenging to continue it. With Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday only weeks away, the final stretch is here to maintain a Christ-like pure life that you are seeking to make happen. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept,” Nehemiah 1:4 stated. “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Centering yourself and focusing on the present task of maintaining your fast can be a grand challenge in and of itself.
Matthew, the apostle, has some instructions for how you can best fast. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting,” Matthew 6:16-18 stated. “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, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
What Matthew is saying here is not to fast in order to be miserable doing it. That is not the point of it. He also does not want you focusing on others but only yourself and your relationship with God. It does not matter, Matthew states, what others are doing but only that you pay attention to your fast and focus on how best you can become more like God and his son, Jesus Christ. That is the point of the whole idea of fasting during the Lenten season.
You might be talking with others about what exactly they are giving up. “What are you giving up for Lent?” is a commonly asked question among anyone who follows the season. You may mention what you are giving up. However, what you are giving up is not something you have to tell anyone. It’s not any other person’s business exactly what you are giving up. It is only something that is between you and God. If you are serious about it, you will find that you can indeed become closer to God through your fasting you chose.
“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off,” Acts 13:3-4 stated. “The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” Praying for others and hoping they can keep their fast and faith in Christ is indeed acceptable. Helping others is always something that God promotes during any season the Church celebrates.
To an extent, it assists in one’s understanding of what Jesus’ sacrifice was all about in his life. Recognizing exactly why you are giving up whatever you are is to follow, not mimic, what Jesus did for others but your actions are to push yourself further toward that ultimate relationship with God. Realizing in the end that God asks all Christians to do this in order to bring the followers of his Church together is the ultimate idea God is trying to express with this season.
The challenge to maintain one’s fast comes as we prepare for the sacrifice of Christ, who gives his life for all of humanity. He gives up his life, so man can redeem themselves from the sins they’ve committed because of temptation due to Satan’s influence on the world God created. It is not easy to keep on the fasting path this Lenten season because of the free will we have to decide not to do so. However, in the end, if we choose to follow God’s ways and attempt to grow closer to him through his son, Jesus Christ, we will work to keep the fast. We will work to become better Christians. And in the end, we will hopefully become better people.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.