“Joy comes when we practice the discipline of engaging regularly with those who are less fortunate.” – Arloa Sutter
While I was reading Isaiah 58 this week, with all the promises that are given as a result of “True Fasting”, I realized why this quote changed my life. I’ve seen them come true. About eight years ago, I had coffee with the writer, who formed a homeless shelter after a devastating time in her life. She spills out joy every time she speaks, she has no regard for self-interest, and she exudes peace. She also feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, provides shelter for the wanderer, and loves those society forsakes. She was a living example for me of what True Fasting and its promises look like.
What her life and Isaiah 58 is telling me is when we get out or our own junk and begin to focus on others, we learn the true meaning of joy.
I know I’ve written on this same topic several times, but I need to keep reminding myself. So, please pardon the broken record. I do think I have a new twist, though. Look at some of the promises we are given as a result of doing justice for those who are too trapped to free themselves:
God will shed his own glorious light upon you
He will heal you
Goodness will be a shield for you
When you pray, God will answer
Your lives will glow in the darkness
Your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight
He will always show us where to go
We will be given a full life in the emptiest of places
We will be like a well-watered garden that never runs dry
Looking closely, you will see these promises can only come if we are in a not-so-great spot. “True Fasting”, then, is actually God’s therapy for us. We can only notice a light shining on us if we are in the dark. We can only be healed if we are first broken. We only require a shield if we need to be protected from something or someone. We can only glow if we are in a murky space. If a life is shadowed, it is far from glamorous. If we don’t know where to go, we are lost. If we are empty, we have nothing. And if we need water, we are thirsty.
When many people think they cannot help others because they, themselves, feel as if they have nothing left to give, it is exactly the time to feed someone who is hungry. When we feel depressed and darkness seems to surround us, it’s time to open the doors of our home to someone seeking a bed. And when we have a heart that has been broken, it’s time to bring clothes to one who may be colder. This, is what God promises, will be our pathway to joy.