Over the years, I’ve been a part of many different fasts. Going for hours, days, and even weeks without food. The motivations have been different: to know more of God, to see Him bring breakthrough in various situations, to release His power in greater ways.
But it was not until recently that the Holy Spirit asked me to fast from strife. Say what?
I was sensing that He wanted me to step back and fast from something, but I was not sure of the specifics. Chocolate? Food? Social media?
No, actually. I was meant to fast from striving.
Strife is defined as angry disagreements (according to the Cambridge Dictionary). And I didn’t realize how often I allowed myself to engage in strife on a daily basis.
The Bible has this to say about strife:
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” -Proverbs 20:3
Strife is rooted in pride (Proverbs 13:10). In Isaiah 58, God tells His people that He’d rather have them stop fighting than to fast food.
I was quick to quarrel, primarily with my husband. I had gotten into a habit of making mountains out of molehills. God was inviting me to a fast from strife. A fast from quarreling. A fast from needing to prove myself right. A fast from pride. A fast to freedom.
With the promise that He would fight my battles, and He would bring any vengeance or correction required (fire from heaven if one more dirty sock is left lying around, perhaps?!), and He was actually a much better Holy Spirit than I was, I accepted His invitation and began a fast from strife- for 3 days.
I was surprised at how many times during the first day that I had to stop myself from answering back. Not necessarily in strife at first, more just wanting to explain myself or prove a point, but knowing where it could lead, I held my tongue. For 3 days this continued, and by the end of the third day, I found that peace had returned to my heart and to my home.
I had been blocking the fruit of Peace, the Prince of Peace, from reigning in my house and in my life because I felt I must prove myself instead of letting God be in charge.
I could be free from the need to be understood at all times. I could be free from the drive to control all parts of my life (and others’!) I could be free to let go of the little stuff and focus on what was more important. I had more energy to do so.
I had forgotten the promise that Jesus made to me many years ago- that He had set me free. It was, indeed, for freedom from myself that He saved me.I do not have to attend every argument to which I am invited. #strife Click To Tweet
Even if I’m right, I don’t have to quarrel. You would think that after years of marriage, I would understand this, but it’s still hard. I know the times when I do give conflict over to the Lord, ask for Him to correct and help us, and hold my tongue, are the times where real change actually occurs. I can’t think of too many times where I have brought about any real change on my own.
There have been times with my husband when I was CLEARLY in the right. I should not have to be the one to ask forgiveness first. If I responded unkindly, it was because he made me! And in all honesty, times where my husband did not “deserve” my forgiveness (because when is forgiveness ever really deserved?) And I remember in those moments, the Holy Spirit asking me if He deserved my obedience or not? Ouch.
There are times in my marriage where neither of us deserves mercy, forgiveness, grace, or kindness, but because God is always deserving of that, He must always remain the focus.
My fast from striving showed me how easy it is to partake in little quarrels that don’t matter and also how easy it is to not. We have been given the gift of self-control. He has set us free from our-selves.Jesus set us free from the need to prove ourselves. He is proof enough. #freedom Click To Tweet