Growl. Here again is our most unwelcome visitor.
He makes a habit of stopping by, yet his arrival is always unexpected, like the guests of Bilbo Baggins’ fateful party. There is a demand to drop what we are doing to make this admission: “I am starving!”
With each rumble, we fret over his nagging. How can we keep him occupied? What will send him away?
Look no further than how we treat our hunger to see that we are a society built on instant gratification. Our consumerist culture trains us to squash hunger with efficiency and speed. Whether it’s fast-food chains, check-out line “impulse items,” or protein-loaded shakes, we aim to kill hunger and keep moving. Daily, we face the secular catechesis that there is something fundamentally wrong with hunger.
Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, a common grace I am often grateful for. But our three-meals-a-day and snack-as-we-wish mentality can become so automatic that we miss the joy found in fasting. At its root, the often-ignored spiritual discipline of fasting is choosing hunger in the place of food. I have leaned more into this spiritual discipline over the past few months, and as I do, I grow more convinced that hunger is a misunderstood friend, not an unsolicited enemy.
A physical fast can actually help us feast the way we were meant to.