Yael's Holy Land Reflections

Fasting in Fellowship

May 6, 2020


No matter where you are in the world, these past few weeks and months have likely been some of the most unusual times that you have ever experienced. Every one of us has been affected in some way by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As a result of this global upheaval, we are witnessing an awakening of spirit. In the midst of the turmoil, people are searching for answers and more people are turning to God for guidance, encouragement, and healing. As the prophet said, there is a famine in the land – “not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). There is a genuine thirst for a connection with God.

Our generation has enjoyed material abundance as no generation has before. Food, water, and medicine have never been so readily available. Accessing luxuries has never been so common. The world has been at our fingertips, both through the internet and through worldwide travel. However, in the busyness and noise, hearing the voice of God has become increasingly more difficult.

Now, God has stopped us in our tracks with a virus that has completely changed our lives. We have been returned to our homes, to our families, to our inner world, to silence, and to a much simpler way of life. It has never been clearer that the world is ultimately in God’s hands – not our own.

Fasting during extraordinary times is a familiar practice for both Christians and Jews. In the Torah, Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights when He was on Mount Sinai receiving the Word of God. In the Christian Bible, during his time in the desert Jesus also fasted for forty days and forty nights. Both faith communities embrace the idea of refraining from particular pleasures in order to focus on spiritual growth.

You can fast in various ways and choose what is best for you. You can abstain from all food or one particular food, and you can do so for one meal or the entire day. Another way to observe the fast is to refrain from certain activities, like watching television, or to stay away from destructive behaviours, like repeating gossip.

As our world faces challenges and uncertainties, I can think of no better way to strengthen our faith then by coming together, Christians and Jews, as one community before God. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). When we come together in introspection and prayer, God’s countenance will surely shine down upon us and bless us. Together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger, more faithful, and better than before.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael signature

Yael Eckstein

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