As Josh and I were driving back from our honeymoon, we were brainstorming “challenges” we could do together and had the brilliant idea of trying out the Daniel Fast. 21 days of eating only things grown from a seed- fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains, legumes, oils, etc. No animal products, no added sugars, no caffeine. (You read that correctly- no caffeine.)
“It will be fun!” We said.
“It will be a way to grow closer to each other and closer to the Lord!” We said.
Fast forward three days later when all I can think about is Chick-Fil-A nuggets and an iced coffee the size of a toddler.
We are nearing the end of the fast and going strong (depending on your definition of the word “strong”), and in all seriousness, it has been a very eye-opening experience for me. The fast is based on the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who, at a critical juncture in his life, wasn’t afraid to go against popular culture by refusing the king’s delicacies. As a result, God gave him “knowledge and understanding” (Daniel 1:17) and he was “healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:15).
Certainly God has created us as fragile beings that depend upon food and drink to sustain us. However, He has also designed us for relationship with Him, and to turn to Him in our desperation rather than a caffeine hit or a pile of cookies.
I haven’t done this fast perfectly. There was more than one occasion where I walked into work feeling like a zombie and went to the nurse’s lounge for a styrofoam cup of subpar coffee loaded with potentially expired cream. But there have also been moments of sweetness, where I denied myself the instant gratification I was craving and got something better instead. I love how Psalm 90:14 captures it- “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
In addition to spiritual strengthening, the Daniel Fast has been a fun way for Josh and I to encourage each other and to commiserate when we were tempted to throw in the towel. Getting snapchats of Josh resisting free donuts at work has been surprisingly funny and encouraging!
This fast has also made me grateful for the abundance that I have access to on a daily basis. There may have been several occasions where I had to deny myself over the past few weeks, but I never once went hungry. I know that a lot of people around the world can’t say the same, and that fact is not lost on me.
I’m happy that Josh and I did this fast together, but even happier that it’s almost over (am I allowed to say that?). As we transition back to our “normal” eating, I want to remember to continually thank God for how He alone satisfies us, and how food and drink is a way to celebrate His goodness and reinforce our dependence on Him. And if next week you see someone pushing to the front of the Starbucks line, just give me some grace and maybe an extra shot of espresso.