by Peter Berg
A few weeks ago, many members of Youth of the Cross participated together in a 30 Hour Famine. We did not eat solid foods from after lunch on Friday, until dinner on Saturday. During that time, we stayed together, fellowshipping, playing games, drinking juice, and trying not to think about how we felt. We also packed meals at Feed My Starving Children, and spent time discussing what the Bible says about helping the poor and about our attitudes towards our own blessings, as well as praying for those in need.
The goal of the whole exercise was to help us learn something about what its like to be hungry, and to stir up in us a greater compassion for, and desire to serve, the poor. As we talked and prayed together, several big themes stood out that really struck us, and that we may not have realized before we began our famine.
1) We Eat Out of Habit
The famine was held at my home, and my wife and I actually had to use baby-locks on cabinets to keep ourselves from accidentally eating. Many of the youth mentioned that, while at home, they also almost broke their fast unintentionally. We realized that, for us, food is so prevalent and easy to get, that we no longer eat merely out of necessity, or out of enjoyment, but out of habit. We eat just because that’s what we do, whether or not we think about it.
This really stood out to us—while 1 in 8 people in the world are going hungry, we have such an abundance of food, that we eat without even being hungry. For us, this became a challenge to be more intentional about our eating habits and to work carefully to avoid waste (a huge percentage of food in America is thrown out) so that we can use some of our resources and blessings to bless others. The food in our fridges cannot help those who are starving in other countries, but if we do not need to buy as much, we can use that money to help supply meals for others.
2) The Power of Hope
By mid-Saturday afternoon, we were not being bothered as much by our hunger pains, which had seemingly died down, but by how groggy and tired we felt. (Its worth noting that we did get enough sleep the night before.) But, as we discussed how we felt and what we were thinking, we realized that we weren’t worried. We knew our next meal was only a few hours away, and that, if we really needed it, food was always close at hand. We had hope.
But many people don’t. We simply had no way to understand how hard it would be to be hungry and to not know when your next meal will come. In many ways, lack of hope may be the worst part of the hunger so many experience around the world. We spent time in prayer especially for those who have no hope, that God would be with them, and they would be provided for.
3) Our Blessedness
At the end of our 30 Hour Famine, it was hard not to feel blessed. We spent time thinking and praying for those in need, and realized how much God provides in our lives—from the food we eat, the homes we live in, to our friends, family, schools, and healthcare. We felt challenged to avoid taking these blessings for granted, to make sure we thank God everyday for everything he does for us, and to do what we can to help others be likewise blessed.
As we sat around the table, happily eating our tacos and hot fudge sundaes, it was impossible not to feel greatly blessed. We ate slowly, enjoying God’s great gifts of food, fellowship, comfort, and the blessing of his love.