The Acceptable Fast
by Sophie Nasrallah
Communications Officer | Middle East Revive & Thrive (MERATH)
For many people in the world, Lent is all about fasting. But how can we make sure that our fasting pleases God? What is the core essence of fasting? Time and time again, the inhabitants in the Old Testament fell into substituting a life that reflects the heart of God with the observance of religious rituals, leading the prophet Isaiah to proclaim that God was not accepting their fasting or listening to their prayer.
The Bible tells us very clearly that the acceptable fasting, the one that really pleases God, has to do with loosening “the bonds of wickedness”, undoing “the straps of the yoke”, letting “the oppressed go free”, sharing our bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into our house, covering the naked.
MERATH aims to empower the local churches to go beyond their church walls, to incarnate this passion for the vulnerable and reach out to the people in need around them. Those that are oppressed, that lack food and are in need of clothing and shelter.
Ahmad’s story is just one of many examples of how this approach not only meets vulnerable individuals’ material needs, but also restores their dignity and hope by enabling them to understand that they are seen, loved and valued.
“We are originally from a small village near Aleppo. We had a big family who loved us and took care of my son Ahmad, who has a physical disability.
“Life in Lebanon has been very harsh. We lived at my brother-in-law’s house, but Ahmad’s cousins kept making fun of him and beating him. Thankfully, we heard about MERATH’s partner which has been helping us tremendously for more than a year.
“Ahmad now receives many health services like physical therapy twice a week. The center helped us pay for neurologist and orthopedist consultations, many tests, glasses, and a wheelchair. We would never have been able to afford any of this!”
“But the best part is that here Ahmad has become so popular! Everyone looks at him like he’s important, like he is a normal child. He even started going to the center’s education program!”