Forty days, Lord? FORTY?
This brilliant set of images conveys something of what a forty day solitary fast might feel like. The moments of delight, and sharp pangs, punctuating a long, gruelling, lonely, often boring, always bleak struggle.
Before the bible’s most understated verse: ‘He ate nothing during those [forty] days, and at the end of them he was hungry.’ (Luke 4.2)
Apparently 40 days is roughly the length of time it takes to establish a habit. Or unestablish one. So it’s forty days of CHOOSING to do a thing, forcing body and spirit to catch up with mind, or mind to catch up with body, or however it works. Emphatically, it is not what comes naturally. Forty days of hunger does not come naturally.
A habit of unselfishness. How does that start? With daily choices for generosity? Or of thankfulness. Daily lists?
I don’t know – but maybe some sort of physical fast, physical act, physical choice helps make the struggle real outside of just my brain. Helps force sinews which bend naturally towards self instead reach towards others, towards God. Honestly, life as a single person trains those instincts towards myself e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e. .d.a.y. I relate so much to the sense of battle against this. And to its frequent failure.
I am not naturally formed for wisdom – but forty days of attempting choices for wisdom can at least start to shape me that way. Suddenly 40 days doesn’t seem nearly enough.