By Brianna Hines
When was the last time you had to humble yourself to do something? I have been forced to do it a lot lately. I took on a huge house remodel and am coming up on the deadline. I have had to humble myself to ask people for help with it. I must say, I don’t enjoy the feeling. There is something about asking for help that is admitting I can’t do everything I thought I could. I wish I could be the rockstar I imagine in my head. I wish I could shock everyone by the sheer amount of things I get accomplished and how well I balance my life.
The truth is, I am just like everyone else. I have the same 24 hours in a day to get things done as the next person, and as much as I would like to pretend, I am not that good at managing my time or balancing my life. I get stressed. I zone out on the couch when I should be getting stuff done. I stare blankly at the wall because my brain just can’t figure out how to solve a problem with my latest project. I neglect my kids. I watch a show while procrastinating on undesirable tasks. I’m human.
But much of the time, I like to pretend I am not. I like pretending I am a little god and can keep my personal planet spinning all on my own. I make plans and figure out the details and am very proud of myself when it all comes together. I start to feel much more important and sovereign than I really am. Humbling myself to ask for help is a really healthy thing for my pride.
God knows how much our own pride can get in the way of our relationship with Him. When we think too much of ourselves, we don’t have much need for Him. I think that is why God sometimes asks us to intentionally humble ourselves. I find it interesting that when God institutes an annual Day of Atonement for His people Israel, it is a day entirely devoted to humility. “You shall humble your souls,” God says. “It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls” (Leviticus 16:29-31). On the day that God wants to forgive His people of all their sins, He asks them for a little humility, and a little stillness. Twenty-four hours where they can’t distract themselves from the reality of their sin or attempt to earn their own forgiveness through work. They are asked to make less of themselves, to be humble.
Biblically, this phrase “humble your soul” can also refer to fasting. In fact, the two are so synonymous that the Day of Atonement is referred to in the New Testament as simply “the Fast.” This Day of Atonement was the one day a year that God paired fasting with sabbath. One day a year of abstaining from food and abstaining from work, so that God could wash their sins away.
I can see how this particular type of sabbath would have been a solemn one, and this particular fast a humbling one. One entire day where I would have nothing to do, literally nothing, not eating or working or anything to do but reflect on all the sin in my life and the weight of that sin being lifted off of my shoulders by a good and gracious God. I have fasted for many different reasons thus far, but that has never been one of them. A fast purely for the sake of acknowledging God’s forgiveness of my sins. I wonder what that would feel like?
Perhaps we should consider it on our list of reasons we might try fasting. Perhaps we should try it on a sabbath. If you are like me, it feels uncomfortable to look my sin dead in the face. It feels uncomfortable to ask God for help with it, and even more so to ask forgiveness for it. But this is something every Christian must learn to do. We have to admit that we need help, that we need a savior. We have to eat some humble pie. It is the only food God wanted His people eating on the Day of Atonement, and it is a dish we should discipline ourselves to order a bit more often today.
So as you are considering fasting, maybe add humility alongside the other biblical reasons you might choose to do so. It is the first reason God gave for fasting, and it might just be the best one. I don’t know. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think God might be nudging me to give it a go, just as soon as I am done with this remodel, that is. Anyone out there good with a paintbrush? Just kidding…but really…