“Why did I do this?” I said internally. “Jesus, this is so much harder than I thought it was going to be!”
(Norine, in the throes of heroic martyrdom, agreed to the Lord she would not have her usual second cup of coffee that day. The spirit is willing, but sometimes the caffeine-deprived flesh is weak!)
I don't remember the reason I gave up my coffee that day, but I have offered God things like that because I know He looks well on sacrifice. Fasting can include giving up meals, specific foods or activities. Whatever you love in a disordered way is something you can offer to God as a sacrifice. Then, you can ask God to fill you or for others with His blessing, love and healing.
In great wisdom, the Church gives opportunity for various kinds of fasting every year during Lent. And we eat smaller meals without meat for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
I don’t look forward to Lent. But I also really look forward to it! It’s hard giving up coffee or screen time or soda or (the ever-favorite) chocolate. But these are times to find out how good you have it with the treats you take for granted and thank the Lord for such favors. It’s a time to have solidarity with those who don’t have treats or leisure or even the basic necessities like you have. It’s a time to realize you may have enjoyed too much and needed to cut back. You don’t want the things you own to own you.
And it’s a time to realize there are many things that get in the way of God. Every time you feel the pang of hunger, or the habit of pouring the second cup, or the desire to watch the show you gave up, it’s an opportunity to talk to God about why you liked that thing and it’s a chance to be reminded that God needs to be the source of all you find good. It reminds you to talk to God about the prayer intention you gave when you agreed to fast. It forces you to lean on Him in ways you didn’t before. It’s an opportunity.
Mary said in her Magnificat, “The Lord fills the hungry with good things.” But you have to be emptied to make room. Otherwise, “the rich, He sends away empty (Luke 1:53).” Being hungry, or thirsty or deprived in any other way during Lent is not easy. But it’s an opportunity to find your alertness, warmth and sweetness in ways that coffee and other created things can never give.
Mark 6:31 He said to them, “Come with me away to a deserted place and rest for a while.”