Thanksgiving, This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.
This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year.
The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.
This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.
I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.
“I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”
This morning I pondered the road ahead, life after the hospital and I know we are facing the most difficult battle of our lives together. Filled with grief at difficult choices that will need to be made, I was not able to eat and I looked up for strength from the Almighty. Bible verses began to cut through the morning fog enveloping my brain as I sought answers. I remembered Jesus explaining the story of faith as a mustard seed, “Say to the mountain, be thou removed” followed by the fasting verse in Matthew 17:21 “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
So why do we fast? When we prepare to do battle in the natural world, whether it be a running a marathon or another sporting event, or maybe even a battle in real warfare, we would want to build up our strength by eating a good meal. However spiritual battle is different because battle technique and the enemy are very different. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12.
So we fast to prepare for spiritual battle, not against physical enemies but principalities in high places that we cannot attack with our physical bodies. We have to call upon powers higher than ourselves to stand and fight for us against such a mighty enemy. So I wondered, how long would it take to starve myself until God would feel sorry for me and act on my behalf? Then it occurred to me, God is not concerned with my hunger or whether I am eating or not eating. As I fasted in preparation for the monumental battle ahead I realized the fasting was was clearing my head and my spirit of earthly obstructions and concerns. Fasting focuses us on the things of God. It opens channels to the spiritual world that we have closed with the constant concerns and distractions of daily life. It prepares us for the battle against the rulers of darkness.