“Is not [the fast that God has chosen] to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:7
In the Pentateuch, fasting was required for the Day of Atonement. It was also often practiced in times of repentance, illness, or war. A reader might expect that God, in the middle of the Book of Isaiah, might be chastising the Israelites for not keeping the prescribed fasts. Instead, God excuses the lack of the action of fasting, focusing instead on what is more important: the condition of the heart.
Certainly, there are times when we as mothers have the wrong heart. We despise God’s gift of children. We showcase a negative attitude rather than giving thanks for His daily blessings. Our Heavenly Father urges you to repent for the sin of your cold heart. He forgives you, sending you the Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in your soul through faith in Christ!
Now, as baptized Christians, we seek to show our gratefulness to the Almighty. We needn’t look far to find ways to do this, though: God declares that doing good to those in our midst is better than a fast! Mothers share their bread with the hungry at least three times a day! Mothers provide a warm and nurturing shelter for the vulnerable. Mothers buy or make clothing for bodies that continually grow. Mothers, whether they’d like to or not, cannot hide from their own flesh and blood, comforting children with attention and affection. Mothers “fast” each day, caring for their families. Viewed through the lens of Jesus’ perfection, what you are doing already is a spiritual sacrifice with which God is well-pleased (Heb. 13:16).
But worthless is my sacrifice, I own it;
Yet, Lord, for love’s sake Thou wilt not disown it;
Thou wilt accept my gift in Thy great meekness
Nor shame my weakness. (ELH 292:14)
For Further Reading: Isaiah 58; Galatians 6:9–10
Excerpted from Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood, vol. 1: Old Testament (2018), by permission of the author.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).