Crunch Time: Day 21 of Ramadan

 

Earlier this week, a reader asked me to comment on how my Ramadan fast was going physically.

I have to admit that it has become easier over the last week. In general, my body has become used to the hunger and thirst. I’ve had only two “bad” days – one on which I had a headache for much of the day, and another in which I just felt lousy and tired.

I find myself struggling to eat in the morning. I’m simply not hungry that early.

The hardest part of the day for me comes around the 5 o’clock hour. I call it “Crunch Time.” Every day, during Crunch Time, I have one moment in which I seriously question why I decided to fast in the first place. All at once, it seems, my stomach contracts, my throat becomes parched, and the thought arises that I could break my fast prematurely, and it wouldn’t be such a big deal. “After all,” I think to myself, “I’m not a Muslim. This isn’t an obligation for me. Why am I suffering like this when I don’t have to?”

I remind myself that I have made my own commitment to God, and furthermore, I now have an obligation to my blog readers! When I start thinking this way, and begin to pray again, then the moment passes quickly. I find myself re-entering the presence of God, and I feel a kind of supernatural surge of energy flow through me again. Before I know it, the sun is setting and I am able to eat my dates and take my drink of water.

It happens like this almost every day.

Crunch Time is the moment in which I come face-to-face with my own human limitations, the edges of my mortality. I recognize the strength of my appetites and passions. I can see that I have the tendency to take the easy way. I know that I am truly weak.

This is an important aspect of fasting – the recognition of our weakness. With awareness of limits, comes humility. And with humility comes confession, repentance, and … renewal.

Every evening, after Crunch Time, my fasting takes a more joyful turn. I feel as if I have withstood temptation, with God’s help. I feel I have conquered my private demons, and have emerged a stronger, more victorious person.

I think maybe this is a pattern that is repeated continually throughout our lives as we walk with God. We are called forward on the path by God, who leads us through trials as well as blessings. At some point, we face an apparent dead-end. There doesn’t seem to be any way forward. But we are forced to make a decision – to acknowledge our weakness, put our whole trust on God, and keep going anyway … OR … give up and turn back in shame, because we have lost confidence in ourselves and in God.

This is the Crunch Time.

When we push through and keep going, we find rewards that we couldn’t have anticipated. We find, of course, that God goes with us, through the storm, through the fire, through every trial and temptation that can be thrown against us.

So I don’t dread 5 o’clock anymore. I have begun to look forward to it.

Indeed, I thank God for Crunch Time, for I can’t wait to see how I emerge on the other side.

Advertisements

25 comments

  1. Ed

    Dear Pastor Wes
    Only a few days are left and you’ve done wonderfully so far in resisting the temptations and urges at crunch time. You really are inspiring to all of us and it’s very interesting reading about Ramadan through your fresh mind and eyes.

    If fasting becomes very hard on me, what I find works for me is to take a 1-2 hours siesta nap in the afternoon, or to even take a shower. Showers hydrate our bodies.

    And since we’re all now reaching the last mile of the marathon, and since you’re in a phase of experimentation, have you considered trying what we call “itikaaf” ? This is a common tradition when Muslims in the last 10 days of Ramadan leave the world behind them, and literally camp at the Mosque where they spend the nights in prayers, reflections and reading the Qur’an and completely isolate themselves from all worldly things, including cell phones. If you’re up for it I’d recommend try just one night during weekdays (weekends, families bring their kids and unfortunately the atmosphere isn’t as focused). It gives an amazing feeling of peace and serenity.

    Peace
    Edgard

  2. mohamamd

    you know you would make an awesome novelist? really. I’m hooked to ur blog.

    and we all suffer from the crunch time: every day: every year of ramadan. but as you said after that time, “we feel as if we have withstood temptation, with God’s help.and have conquered our private demons, and have emerged as stronger, more victorious persons.”

  3. Meg Swaid

    You’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time! I am amazed you made it this far…I keep wondering, is he giving up yet? And every day I come back and see your posts and am rejuvenated, relieved and re-delighted at your resolve. Well done, well done.

  4. Husaini

    I was waiting for today’s episode! We all go through that crunch time.

    What motivates me through that crunch time is a saying by God, “Every action of son of Adam is for himself except for Fasting which is for ME and I will reward for it.”
    Narrated by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

  5. Jessica

    i am loving this blog… every evening i come home from taraweeha prayer and cozy up with tea and read the latest entry 🙂

  6. shelby mirza

    Wes,
    I love the idea of the blogger suggesting you to try Itikaff! I believe you will find this experience most refreshing and leave you forever impressioned by the way life has us tethered to worldly things.
    I am also curious how you plan to spend your Eid celebration?
    One more thing about “crunch time” is that you say you notice it around 5 in the afternoon and after you pray you feel rejuvenated, well this is also around the time or our 3rd daily prayer so this is a natural feeling and so the time of prayer is also for us the last stint of the fasting and that prayer time helps us to feel more energetic to make it the last few hours of the day.

    Thank you for walking this journey with us and for blogging it for everyone to read!
    Shelby

  7. Yavuz Akkilic

    Hi,
    It is interesting that you mention the private demons. I don’t know, whether the litaral notion of private demonsin exists Christianity but in Islam, we believe that every person has a private demon, who is assigned to tempt him to the path of the bad.
    But it has been heralded by the prophet, that all of the demons on earth are chained down during Ramadan, and they would not be able to acchive their goals. So the crunch time, you are talking about is probably caused by your inner temptation(“nafs” in islamic glossar).

    Btw, I enjoy your blog very much. Keep it coming pastor.

    BR
    Yavuz

  8. Sarah

    I think i am hooked, thi sis really nice reading about someone doing the acts as we do in Ramadan, keep it up… this is really beautiful….

  9. Quaid Saifee

    Dear Pastor
    I liked the picture you chose for the crunch time. We have so many choices (God given) to make at almost every intersection in life and being believers we need to make the right choice(s). The picture represents that really well.

    For me crunch time has nothing do with food and drink (maybe because I have been fasting in Ramadan for last 30 years), but it is about sleep. I am so ready to take a nap after I come back home from work. That refreshes me for extra prayers at night and dawn prayers.

    Just before dawn is considered a very special time for prayers, it is also the quietest time of the day, amazing time to to connect with Almighty, All Wise and All Forgiving.

    May God be with you. and May He accepts our fasts.

    Quaid

  10. Arif

    It’s interesting that you choose to entitle your day 21 post as “Crunch Time”. Because the last 30 days of Ramadan really is crunch time. Not from the physical aspect of fasting, because by now, one’s body is more or less accustomed to the physiological changes. But crunch time from a spiritual aspect.

    The last 10 days are considered more valuable than any other time of the year to engage in the worship of our Lord. The blessing of all our acts of worship to God and kindness to our fellow man are multiplied several folds. And within these last 10 days, exists a very special night: Lalatul Qadr (Night of Power). It’s such a special event that an entire chapter (all 5 verses) in the Quran was dedicated to it:

    “We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
    And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is?
    The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months.
    Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:
    Peace!… This until the rise of Morn!” Quran, Chapter 97.

    I look forward to reading about a post regarding the Night of Power from you, inshallah (God Willing). 🙂

  11. djdfr

    It is the same for me. When that part of me says why are you doing this, I am so hungry, I reply I will eat tonight. This year I have taken a couple of naps, something I usually resist doing, but as I lay down, I had the thought that God nourishes us during our sleep.

  12. carmenmccain

    I’m a Christian who has fasted during three Ramadans alongside Muslim friends in northern Nigeria, and I recognize so much of what you are describing! I too never had much problem physically, except the first few days, but would also go through that crunch time about 2 hours before breaking fast most days and ask some of the same questions about whether, as a Christian, it was so essential that I keep the fast. But sticking with it is worth it, especially when you are breaking fast with friends. I’m loving your blog. May God bless you in the final week of your fast. In Hausa the greeting before iftar is “A sha ruwa lafiya”–literally “May you drink water well.” A sha ruwa lafiya.

    P.S. Here is a link to one of the articles I wrote about fasting during Ramadan: http://weeklytrust.com.ng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6957:under-the-mango-tree&catid=57:my-thoughts-exactly&Itemid=154

  13. Mielad

    Are you going to go for Qiyam ul Layl (Night prayers) it is to catch Laylat ul Qadr which is the night of Decree for Muslims. I know it probably doesn’t mean much to you, but we are told it is worth more than a thousand months, and many muslims stand to do night prayers in the last 10 nights. 🙂

  14. Mauri Felissa

    Hello, I’m reading all of your posts about Ramadhan fast and I’m going to say that your posts make me rethink about what have I done in this Ramadhan. I’m Muslim by birth and I think your thoughts about Ramadhan makes me in awe. Not all Muslim have such thought like that, I have to admit. Muslim in my country began to not follow the Quran’ and Haddith ways. Not in extreme way like eating porks or drinking alcohol, but like the Muslim female began to cast off their veil because they think it’s old-fashioned and so on. Personally, as a female I felt odd between my female friends because at the school they wear their veil, but on the outside school when we break the fast, they didn’t wear their veil. And I felt I ‘m the only one who still kept what Allah has taught to all Muslim female, is to cover their head with veil. Your post truly made me felt confident that I’m odd person, a minority, but in good terms. Thank you very much! P.S. can you make a post about Lailatul Qadr? About what the communities do in those holy night, in the last ten odd days in Ramadhan? Again, I thank you.

    I hope you’ll get the hidayah from this Ramadhan, Amien!

    Sorry for my bad English, because I’m from Indonesia and I’m 15 years old.
    Lissa

  15. Marisa

    Salams.
    How good it is to read such wonderful observations about Ramadan…and the fact that they come from a non Muslim adds to their worth. Of course this should not be the case, but it is.
    On explaining a bit about Ramadan to a non Muslim friend who believes in God, I realised that most people know so very little about what happens during this month and you are preaching to the non converted!
    Here are some thoughts to add;
    Every night during this month, millions of Muslims will go to the masjid (mosque) to stand and pray for up to 2 hours after Isha prayer. They will be lead by a man (the Imam) who knows the Quran by heart and will recite out load to the congregation. There are hundreds of thousands of men and women that can recite the Quran by heart. In fact the root of the word to remember is the same as the root of the word to protect. By learning the Quran by heart, it is being protected…subhanAllah.
    As some others have rightly added, the last 10 days will see millions praying through the night on top of the other prayers.
    I used to think that Ramadan was the time that Muslims ate and slept…till I became one!
    Alhamdulilah

  16. Yusuf

    5 o’clock crunch time especially during the last 10 days may be the pinnacle moments when we must rise to the occasion and embrace this precious time even more. I’m not a scholar but Islam by definition means “the struggle to surrender”. Even if you cannot pray or don’t know how…..just the acts of refraining from bad habits and improving yourself to being a better person are considered prayers in themselves.I’m sure everyone knows how much temptation is within reach these days. It’s very inspiring to read your blog which in itself can be considered as prayer b/c you are reminding many out there how they felt the first time they fasted and inspiring them to at least follow the basics. As for me, i think i’ll shave off that 5 o’clock shadow and say an extra prayer…..inshallah we will all be rewarded for our efforts.

  17. Ahmed

    Dear Sir, I want to thank you for your wonderful blog about observing this holy month of Ramadan. I can’t wait to read your next 9 postings — or perhaps 10, hoping that you would also write about the day of Eid-ul-Fitr.

  18. Americanmuslimah-Patricia

    To Know that you are the weak one and Allah is the one who is all-powerful is one of the blessing we gain as a result of Ramadan. To know that the Bible is similar to the Quran is a proof that Quran is from God!

    Thank You Allah for leading me in the right direction. Thank You for guiding me. May you truly guide this man as well.

  19. dogman70

    I totally understand what you mean by ‘crunch time’ I get the same sort of thoughts going on. Fortunately for me I am at work at that point & so this helps me stay on target. However since Ramadan started there have been 3 different days where I did ‘give up’ along the course & ate. I don’t really regret it either. I did at that moment but looking back I feel I am doing my best to keep to my plan of fasting.

  20. Will

    Really enjoying this blog. It is 5pm in Canada’s East coast as I wrote this so it is crunch time for me. As a Christian who embraced Islam 6 years ago I am really enjoying your blog and I thank you for helping shed many lights on many misconceptions that keep us needlessly apart. As the Qur’an says…. The closest to you in faith you will find to be the Christians….

  21. Heba Sourour

    I have to say, it’s amazing the way you allow for me to discover what MY own religion is truly about. I never thought about worship in this manner before, it was simply duty because of its familiarity. This defamiliarization of my own religion is doing me so much good! Thank you for such inspiring entries!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s