As I read through the old writers like Bonhoeffer, Nee, Guyon, Fénelon etc. I am taken by how differently they viewed the cross from the way we view it today. They viewed ALL suffering and ALL trials as a part of the cross. Even more, they viewed the sufferings of the cross a necessary part of the Christian life! Many of these old writers did not seem too concerned about escaping the difficulties of life for a "better life", or the "best life". They found life's difficulties as a way to draw closer to God, almost as if sufferings were a path that led directly to the throne of God. The Apostle Paul understood this in 2 cor 12:10 "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong"
Nowadays we don't pursue the cross, we avoid it at all costs. Instead we pursue "blessings". The blessings of God are looked at as proof that He loves us. The problem with this mindset is that when difficulties do arise and God doesn't immediately fix them we lose faith and lose hope. We quit praying and want to quit as if God has forgotten about us. What I like about fasting is that it allows me to put myself into a self-induced trial. Fasting is hard. It is a type of cross. My flesh cries and whines for a cracker or potato chip. But through the difficulty I learn to push towards God. I learn to die to my personal and immediate needs for the sake of something bigger. In this case, Pensacola. The challenge therefore over these 40 days is to recognize fasting as a type of cross, pick it up and find God in the midst of your hunger.