Hope Extended in my Exile from Sugar

“Have you lost some weight?” my friend asked this past week.

Then a couple of days later, another friend enquired, “Has your sugar fast helped you lose weight this year? You look like you have.”

After both queries, I graciously thanked them both, but honestly replied, “I don’t know.” John and I do not own scale in South Africa. I haven’t been measuring myself like I did a year and a half ago when I embarked on a weight loss journey with the 21 Day Fix. Thus, I haven’t been paying attention to my weight.

Although, if weight loss is happening – I won’t complain! 🙂

Weight loss, although a great benefit, has not been my goal with refusing sugar this year. My purpose in giving up sugar in 2017 has centered upon a desire to grow closer, more intimate, and more dependent upon my Lord and Savior and my friendship with Him.

As I have fasted sugar for the past 97 days, I am experiencing a greater peace, a greater sense of contentment and a greater hope. How could giving up sugar in the forms of chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cakes, and more propel me into this space of a growing awareness of wholeness?

A revelation occurred to me as I read these words from Jeremiah in answer to my question. These verses are familiar words to many, I’m sure. Nonetheless, the Lord gave me some fresh, life-giving truths through them in relation to my no-sugar journey with Him:

“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’

New International Version, Jeremiah 29:10-14

The exiles from the nation of Israel had been thrust into Babylonian captivity. The prophets among them predicted their stay would be a short one. However, their prophetic words held no truth. The Lord informed this exiled group that their confinement would last a life time. Yet, the people could hardly imagine that 70 years of captivity was their future. They held fast to a vain confidence – desiring to return to their homeland – and rely upon the false testimony of what they most wanted to hear. No matter. God’s words would prove true. He knew what He was saying – the false prophets did not.

Nonetheless, the Lord extended His cord of hope, tiqvah to this exiled people. Tiqvah is the Hebrew transliterated word which means cord, ground of hope, and expectation. The Lord offered His consistent, everlasting love to this struggling and despairing group. He promised to hold them sure and fast through the duration of their captivity – no matter the pain, hardship, and struggle that lay ahead. Their welfare was His concern. The Lord desired that His exiled nation would experience shalam in the midst of their captivity. Shalam is the Hebrew transliterated word which means covenant of peace, contentment, to be made complete, and to be brought to wholeness. The Lord’s hope and restoration were pledged even before the captive nation returned to their God in love and repentance.

Yet, it would be through repentance and a contrite heart that the fulfillment of this vow would come.

In other words, the oppression, misfortune, trouble, distress, and despondency that had befallen this exiled group, were ultimately destined for their greater good. Their captive hearts would be set free from their idolatrous, self-gratuitous and deceitful bondage – in time. For dedicated time – away from all that was known in their homeland – was needed for restoration.

The Lord’s word would prove true.

During their 70 years of captivity, the exiles would call upon their God.

The exiles would pray earnest, heartfelt prayers.

The exiles would seek their God – with all their heart.

And as they did, their hearts would be transformed.  A greater dependency, a greater intimacy, and a greater hope in their God would develop, flourish, and take deep root.

Now, I don’t want to hijack these verses and make them all about me – that’s never good and always too self-centered.

However, I do see a connection in these exhortative verses to my exile from sugar.

For like the exiled nation, I had turned my heart towards quick, self-gratuitous actions through a handful of chocolate chips in times of stress instead of turning to my God for His help and His support.

For like the exiled nation, I had become slothful in seeking God in situations in which I needed Him most.

And like the exiled nation, I needed to be removed from my deceitful reliance on chocolate or some other sugary sweet; believing sugar could attend to an immediate need better than my God could.

Like I shared, I have reached day 97 of my sugar exile – far, far, far short of 70 years that the Israelite captives experienced. However, it has made me wonder about the duration of my sugar exile.

Will a year without sugar be enough for what I am seeking in my relationship with my God?

Or is some kind of permanent life-change in the making?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that my sugar exile has been an act of obedience.  I am truly experiencing shalam – a covenant of peace and contentment and wholeness – like never before!

I hold the Lord’s cord of hope during this sugar exile. His mercy and grace are evident as I continue onward in my no-sugar journey in 2017.  I am blessed by His word:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’

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