So, a visit to the doctor this week informed me that I have a little bug hanging out in my body -- a parasite that I probably picked up somewhere in my world travels. Hard to say how long it's been around, but we found it; that's what counts! Finding means we can get rid of it.
And as for how to get rid of it? Well apparently, the natural way to kill a parasite is to starve it. So in addition to taking some medicine, I'm supposed to stick to this diet for a couple weeks:
- No sweets
- No grains (flour, bread, pasta, rice, cereal....etc)
- No fruit after 3:00 pm
- No food at all for three hours before bed
I think the hardest part is not being able to eat for 3 hours before bedtime. Okay okay -- I'm addicted to my late-night snacks!! (I think I should hashtag "first world problems" here..?) Seriously, though. This rule of the parasite-killing diet has made me the most grumpy so far. Going to bed hungry is just not fun.
And that's the statement that stops me in my complaining tracks.
Seriously. How many people around the world and even in this county are going to bed hungry tonight -- and not for temporary health reasons, but because they have no choice? It's estimated that 21,000 people die of hunger EVERY DAY. That's a hunger-related death every 4 seconds, all day, every day. Seriously? And I'm gonna eat a great meat-and-veggies dinner and then complain about not getting to have a late-night snack? Talk about a perspective change.
The timing of this is interesting, because I just finished reading Seven by Jen Hatmaker. In the course of her "experimental mutiny against excess," Jen went on a month-long fast where she only ate 7 foods. She chose chicken, eggs, whole wheat bread, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, and apples. Only those foods, for a month. In the book, she shares not only how difficult -- yet strangely rewarding -- this was, but also how it helped her identify with the poor and hungry. A fast does that. It's a change in our routines and habits that creates space for God to speak and perspectives to change.
I would hesitate to call what I'm doing a fast...I guess it is, but I'm doing it for health reasons, not spiritual reasons. But one of the wonderful things about our God is that whatever "reason" we have, He has bigger purposes. I may be grudgingly dieting to get rid of a parasite, but He can step in and do so much with that -- urge me to be more thankful for what I have...remind me that poor people suffer hunger daily...cause me to be more focused, more diligent in my food choices, and more dependent on Him...and bring this Scripture to mind:
"Is this not the fast I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"
By the way, it just recently jumped out at me that this verse says, divide YOUR bread with the hungry. But that's a whole 'nother blog post.
For now, I'll end with a quote from Jen Hatmaker: "A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves." That's good stuff.
So I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum for the rest of these two weeks. After all, God created a pretty wide variety of meats, vegetables, and cheeses. And I can still have my coffee. That's reason to rejoice, right?
And before I go to sleep tonight, may the little discomfort in my belly remind me to pray for the millions around the world, hungry for food and hungry for Jesus.