The one who frees prisoners,
who frees the oppressed,
who lightens burdens,
who clothes the needy,
who feeds the hungry,
who helps the troubled,
is himself wounded
and in need
Weakness neither disqualifies nor exempts me from service.
I read about fasting. I read that the kind of fasting God desires is denying self to help others. The true fast is to give up Self and help the imprisoned, the oppressed, the hungry, the homeless. Here’s what I read:
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
The result? Here are some:
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.”
Healed wounds. God’s protection.
This means that they were wounded to begin with! The helpers were themselves in need of protection! Helping others does not require being trouble-free myself. Even (or especially) from a position of weakness, I can help others.
This corrects two aspects of my erroneous thinking:
1. The “Poor Me” Syndrome. This is when I think, “I’m so weak myself. How can I possibly help someone else? There’s no way I can be a blessing to others.”
2. The Bitter, Give-to-Receive Sydrome. This is when I think, “I’m so weak myself—and people expect me to help others? They should be the ones helping me!”
The Isaiah passage helps eliminate both mindsets. Weakness neither disqualifies nor exempts me from giving help. God not only empowers me to help when I am weak, He also expects me to help when I am weak. And in both cases, it’s by His guidance and strength:
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
A true fast must involve giving up Self. Who else but the selfless can serve others in the midst of their own woundedness and weakness?
Father, help me be selfless so that it is truly not I who live, but Christ in me. Give me godly self-unconsciousness. Help me to love.