Monday, December 7, 2015

Fasting and Rejoicing

Hello Everyone!  

Snow Report: Still nothing, but it's cold.  

This week I'd like to take a moment to talk about fasting, considering it was for members of the church a Fast Sunday this past Sunday.  While reading in the Doctrine and Covenants I commenced in reading Section 59 which was often referred to as a revelation geared on "instructing the Saints how to keep the Sabbath and how to fast and pray” (Heading to D&C Section 50).  Included in this section are great passages that talk about attending our meetings and the feelings and works we should have and do as we go about this holy day.  

As I was reading, one verse stood out to me that opened my understanding to one of the great side-effects of fasting and prayer:
"Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer." (D&C 50:14)

Now there's a phrase I had seldom seen paired with fasting, rejoicing.  Within the walls of my head there has been a distinct line drawn between going without food and water, and being happy or rejoicing.  In almost all circumstances these two ideas were conflicting and polar opposites in my mind.  But apparently this is evidence of God's ways being higher than my ways.  Fasting, just as with all other things God brings to light or institutes, has a divine and multi-faceted purpose that I had failed to see, or at least failed to comprehend.  

Before this life we had no body.  We had no hunger, thirst, or fatigue.  Fasting as we know it wasn't an option for us.  We didn't have the option to go without food or water because we frankly didn't need the physical requirements necessary for sustaining life.  When we entered this life we suddenly had to cope with all of the problems that accompany a mortal body.  Along with that comes the responsibility to treat it well.  We can see how misuse of these bodies and poor treatment of them can hinder lifespan, physical activity, and happiness.  Fasting is a way for us to maintain control over the base impulses that are intrinsic in all people.  As far as fasting goes, God could have easily made fasting not of food or water, but of Diet Coke or of strawberries or naps.  But not all people have a natural draw to Diet Coke, strawberries, or naps (I certainly do though), so God gave us the law of the fast in such a way as to make this commandment a true sacrifice for all people.  In this way, God wants us to rejoice and have opportunities to overcome the overarching natural man as a way to learn self-mastery for our specific impulses and desires.  Through fasting we are able to learn the stepping stones for greater self-mastery later on.  For if we're not able to give up something as simple, and for many of us within the United States as plentiful, as food and water, how will we ever gain the desire or drive to give up more difficult habits and imperfections?  

Fasting is a truly inspired law, given to us that we might learn how to become more perfected.  Our Father in Heaven wants us to be agents unto ourselves, and has provided many guides and stepping stones for us to learn how to do so.  Truly in strengthening the spirit and gaining self-control we find cause to rejoice.  We are able to "cleanse the inner vessel" to more adequately cleanse the outer as well (Alma 60:23).  I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Elder Gailey

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