Forty days of fasting

I lack self-discipline.  I haven’t really exercised since the weather turned cold and rainy in October.  I eat chocolate multiple times daily.  I don’t read the Bible regularly on my own…

So when I heard about my parents’ church signing up to read through the Bible in a year, I decided to sign up for this challenge as well.  Being emailed a passage to read every day would be a great way to stay on track and be reminded of parts of Scripture I haven’t ventured into in years.  Lent also provided another opportunity to practice my self-discipline, which I took up with a mild sacrifice of alcohol for the season.

Three months into the year, and there are numerous unread daily scripture emails in my inbox.  Thirty three days into Lent, and I have feasted more than a few times when offered a glass of wine with dinner or at a friends’ house.

A few weeks ago, I was reading through Exodus 24, where Moses is on Mount Sinai for 40 days until he receives the law from God.  This number 40 struck me, and how it is the number of days Lent lasts… and the number of days Jesus was tempted in the desert for, and how long Noah was in the ark for…

This started a Google search for me, where I learned a bit about the significance of the number 40. I found that it is mentioned 146 times in Bible. ( ) I also found out that it might not represent an accurate measurement of time, but a way of indicating that a long time had passed.  As well, the number 40 most often indicates a period of trial or testing.

As I read about Moses being on the mountain for this amount of time, and thought about all of the other 40 day trials that appeared within the Bible, I realized how meaningful it is to observe this 40 day testing that we call Lent. By fasting like Jesus did in the desert, by undergoing this period of trial like Moses, Noah, and many others did throughout the Bible, we place ourselves within the narrative of the Biblical story.  We might be able to walk with Jesus a little bit closer by understanding the trials he went through while in the desert.  We can also feast knowing that we’ve fasted, and our hearts are prepared like the hearts of those who have come before us.

Here’s to fasting and continuing to work on our self-discipline.  May it increase our ability to walk alongside Christ, and place ourselves within the Biblical narrative.


2 thoughts on “Forty days of fasting

  1. I appreciate this reflection very much. Thank you. I too have slipped in my original desire to abstain from chocolate this year, but am basking in the grace.
    This blog post was sent to me in February:
    I especially liked this portion:
    But without death, there can be no resurrection.

    Without a desolate winter, spring loses its context. Without sorrow, joy lacks its poignancy. Without pain, we cannot embrace healing.

    The light will come soon, but for now, live with the darkness. Consider the shadow times of Lent as a necessary backdrop to offset the brilliance of the hope yet to come.

    Like the rest of life, if we endure the next few weeks while only focusing on one day in the distance, we look back and find the joy has come at too great of a cost. Instead, let’s embrace the struggle together.

  2. Sara, thank you for your honesty. I think we all struggle with discipline so it is good to hear your journey through it. And Beth, I appreciate your thoughts and the link. Indeed there is no new life without death. And now that the time has come, we can say with glad hearts “He is Risen!”.

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