Between the ages of about 4 and 13 I attended a branch of a church called the Worldwide Church of God. It was a pretty traditional organisation where we had formal two-hour sermons, sang only hymns, celebrated the same festivals as the Jews (Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement etc) and went to church on Saturdays. We believed in God and Jesus but weren't quite ready to accept the Holy Spirit (which I think is why my mum left).
Day of Atonement, as I mentioned above, was a day where the whole church fasted and took time off work/school to go to an all-day service. And when I say everyone fasted, I mean no food or water - we rarely even brushed our teeth. It wasn't forced and obviously babies and young children didn't get involved but as soon as you were old enough to go to Sunday School most of us did. Sunday School classes at my old church were like actual school in that you had to prove you had learned enough at each level before moving on to the next and so we were eager to do it as a sign of us being "grown up". (Funny how eager we are as children, to grow up and then when we get here we're like, "Nooo! Take me back!" Shambles.)
So I have been used to fasting each year and found it odd when, attending a new church, I found out about Lent and how "fasting" doesn't necessarily mean abstaining from what you consume through your mouth. Anyway, in the years since, I have been witness to many diets and healthy eating plans that actually endorse short periods of fasting - drastically restricting what we consume through our mouths.
I was watching a documentary by Anne Robinson recently where she talked about her annual health farm experience. Alongside the health and beauty treatments she undergoes, she also fasts for the two week duration of her visit, consuming only what she calls a "broth".
So I was thinking about this along with something I'm currently doing at church called the Redemption Course which follows a book of the same name and involves eight pretty intense sessions. I'm only two weeks in but one of the things I'm trying to understand is that we don't need to understand God. I've written about this before in God vs Job and what's reiterated on this course is that we don't always need to know the answers in order to trust Him.
So I wonder if, maybe God actually knows how much our bodies will benefit from fasting - you know, since He made us and everything - as well as it being a form of sacrifice. But maybe He wants us to do it in obedience and to show we can trust Him not because we know the outcome but because we know that what He leads us to, is for our good.
It's pretty great when a sacrifice turns out to have an actual point right? An actual benefit. Especially when on the surface it just looks like a pretty dire thing to be doing. I wonder what other benefits I would be getting if I just did what God tells me to do?
Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"