“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!” Isaiah 58:6-9
Fasting. It’s meant to cause suffering. It’s supposed to be hard. It should cleanse me from my attachments and open my eyes to Who my heart is really pursuing. But what is God calling me to when He allows an unimaginable fast to enter my life? A fasting from someone I love? A fasting from someone who was taken before he or she could even enter this world? A fasting from someone who, at a mere 7 weeks along, was but a tiny bundle of hopes and dreams, yet capable of capturing all of the love my heart could hold?
It’s tempting to isolate, to wrap myself in a blanket of grief and just dare the world to try to enter. But this is not the manner of fasting God wishes: “That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes.” (Is 58:5) Rather, God calls me to use my pain to unite myself to Him and others like Him. He calls me to unite myself to those who pick up their cross daily and carry it–those who carry a cross much heavier than mine. A time of mourning is needed. But a time of healing is made complete by reaching out to others and staying open to love. It will take time. I know there will still be days of sackcloth and ashes. But even in the midst of this unimaginable fast, my heart continues to try to find its way toward the One I really desire, to trust that my wound will be healed, and to listen with hope for the words, “Here I am!”