Eating is an expression of our dependence. God made us in such a way that we need to eat. We’re embedded in creation; this means that every time we eat, we’re reminded of our dependence on others. Few of us eat food we ourselves have grown and cooked. Even the more self-sufficient among us still rely on other people. Food forces us to live in community, to share, to cooperate, and to trade. In all societies there’s a division of labor, which means we work together to provide the food we need. This division of labor frees us from constant hunting and gathering to develop science and art. A humble loaf of bread expresses the mandate God gave humanity to develop agriculture, technology, society, commerce, and culture.
Above all, food expresses our dependence on God. Only God is self-sufficient. We are creatures, and every moment we’re sustained by him. Even our rebellion against him is only possible because he holds the fabric of our universe together by his powerful word. Our shouts of defiance against God are only possible with the breath he gives.
Every time we eat, we celebrate again our dependence on God and his faithfulness to his creation. Every time. Food is to be received with gratitude. “Taking the five loaves…he gave thanks” (Luke 9:16, NIV)…
We not only express our dependence on God by feasting, but also by fasting. Just as food points to the goodness of God, so the hunger of fasting reminds us of our need for God. Most of us rarely get hungry before the next intake of food comes along. When we perceive no need, then our self-sovereignty is undisturbed. But fasting brings our need to the fore. Fasting reminds us that we’re creatures. We’re not self-existent. As the hunger pains bite, we recognize with gratitude and prayer our dependence on creation, on community, and on God.
Fasting reminds us that we depend on God for physical satisfaction, but also for spiritual satisfaction. Our hunger for food heightens our hunger for God. We typically become grumpy when we’re hungry. Some of us medicate through food. Our habit when in need is to turn first to food for escape or refuge. Fasting retrains us to turn to God.
Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table, p. 70-71