Fasting: Part 4
As I described in my last blog post, fasting allows miracles to happen. Whenever I humble myself before God in prayer and fasting, positive things always seem to happen around me. I’ll get a phone call out of the blue with good news. Someone I love who is hurting will suddenly make a turn for the better. Relationships begin to thrive. Exciting things unexpectedly occur in the lives of my loved ones. The cool thing is that I rarely have a direct connection to these things. They just happen and they all seem like answers to my prayers. I’m glad that it ususally unfolds this way because if I were more directly involved, I’d probably be tempted to take credit. It’s better for me to know for certain that God is acting, not me.
During Advent in 2011, I fasted in preparation for Christmas. Many, many wonderful things happened. Here are three of them:
My friend David. I had a friend who had died in October, 2011. It was sudden, unexpected, and heartbreaking. He was very wealthy and had lived alone for most of his adult life. The previous August as we were talking about life, he told me that he had just decided to change his will to leave most of his money to the Elkhart County Community Foundation whenever he died. I was thrilled to hear this, but didn’t think too much about it since I didn’t think he was going to die for another 30 years.
In separate conversation, he also told me that he was going to give Holy Cross College $1.5 million for a much needed scholarship – the first fully endowed scholarship in the college’s history – and that this would happen right away. The money would be funded by Christmas. After his untimely death, there was no written record of his promise to me and no guarantee that his estate could even recover his money from overseas.
After his funeral, I told the people working on his estate about his intent to give Holy Cross $1.5 million. Boy was I uncomfortable and self-conscious. Surely I must be sounding like a con man! But it was the truth so I had to say it. Christmas came and went and recovery of any of his money from his overseas investments was anything but certain, let alone the $1.5 million for Holy Cross College. But in early 2012, I was informed by the executor of the estate that they had successfully recovered all his money. After taxes it was about $150 million. The Elkhart Community Foundation got their money which made me extremely happy. But I still felt uneasy about his gift to Holy Cross College. Would enough people involved believe me? Shortly thereafter, I was informed that they were funding the scholarship at Holy Cross based on my word. They DID believe me! And then they gave us $2 million instead of $1.5 million! Wow.
My goddaughter. During this time period, my beautiful goddaughter, Anna, was struggling through a very difficult bout of cancer. She was young and really on the ropes, suffering significantly. I, along with many others, prayed for her. When I fasted that Advent, I was fasting for her too. She went through a living hell, but guess what, she survived! Today, she is strong and healthy. A beautiful young woman. I’m convinced that all of our prayers and fasting had something to do with her successful recovery.
My 6th grade basketball team. I was coaching my son’s 6th grade boys basketball team with another dad. We weren’t the coaches the previous year, but we had sat in the stands together and watched our boys lose all 14 games as 5th graders. After opening the season with 4 more losses, we finally won a 2 quarter exhibition game at a holiday tournament. Afterwards, we celebrated this minor acheivement like we had just won the championship! It was the first time these boys had EVER won anything on a basketball court. They had broken an 18 game losing streak!
This happened during my Advent fasting. Unfortunately, we lost our next game, but then something magical happened. We won 11 in a row!!! ELEVEN!!! There was something surreal about that run of 11 consecutive victories. Almost every game came down to the wire. Time after time after time, somehow, some way, our boys kept finding a way to pull a victory. It was incredible! The parents and coaches saw boys grow in self-confidence. They saw smiles and joy. They saw a team come together in a most unexpected way.
Now remember, before the winning streak began, I had been fasting. After 9 days of no food and only drinking water, I told my wife that I probably needed to stop fasting but I really didn’t want to since we were receiving so many graces already. She chuckled and agreed with me, both that I should stop fasting and that she didn’t want to see it end either. The beautiful thing is that this huge blessing with my basketball team didn’t happen until after I stopped.
I realize that a skeptic could say that any one of these things could be explained without any supernatural intervention. I understand that. All I can tell you is that I felt the grace of God working in the world and my wife did too. My fasting was definitely connected to it. I don’t know how, but I do know that it was.
But what’s so hard to believe about that? What’s so hard to believe that God rewards fasting just like the Bible, the early Church Fathers, and a multitude of saints have said? For me, the power of fasting wasn’t just theoretical. I had experienced it first hand!