In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
Now that the fast of Ramadan has started, it is time for me to re-kindle my relationship with God’s Word. Muslims are encouraged to read the book of the Qur’an during the entire year, but most especially during Ramadan. I say this with a feeling of bittersweetness.
Sweet that I now, once again, delve into God’s Word and reflect over His Majesty on the printed page. At the same time, however, I am sad that – in the chaos of daily life – I have let that relationship fall by the wayside. I should be reflecting over His Word every day, but, alas, I have not.
Yet, that is the purpose of Ramadan: to allow ourselves to re-charge our spirituality after a year’s worth of rust and dust has built up. And it never ceases to amaze me how I can find so much time to do things when I am not concerned with eating and drinking; how much time there is to read the Qur’an and ponder over the Word of God when I am not busy stuffing my face full of food after coming home from work. It is one of the multitude of blessings of this month.
As I read through the first two chapters, this verse in particular stood out in my mind:
How can you be ungrateful (or deny God) when you were dead and He gave you life? Then He will cause you to die and bring you back to life again, and then unto Him you will be brought back. (2:28)
I have touched upon this verse multiple times, especially when it comes to talking about God’s love. For this verse, perhaps above all others, points to the unending love of God for us. And as I mentioned in my last post, the fast of Ramadan is truly all about God’s love.
Yet, still, it renders one speechless to think about the enormity of the Grace that God has shown us to give us life when we were dead. It is an enormous gift to be given life when we were nothing of note in this universe. It is an enormous blessing to be given life when we did nothing to God to warrant such a blessing.
Yet He gave us life anyway.
As a physician, I see every day the workings of the body’s machinery in action, constantly in motion to keep us healthy. Every organ and enzyme system works non-stop to keep the body’s chemistry in the tightest of ranges, so that we can be healthy. And it is God, in my belief, Who oversees these processes, and it is He who has originated these processes. All of this is the manifestation of His love for us.
Indeed, these processes can go awry, and it is through His grace that physicians like me have been given the honor and privilege to tend to the sick and help, through His power, make them feel better. There can be no greater honor for me than to be given someone’s complete trust in order to help them feel better. I thank God for that, and I never take it for granted. All of this is the manifestation of His love for us.
The very air we breathe; the water we drink (from which I am prevented for a time); the food we consume; the strength of our legs to keep us moving; the sight and hearing we utilize: all of this is God’s love for us. We are completely and totally enveloped in God’s love each and every day. And I love and bask in that light, live for its warmth, indulge in its sweetness.
Thus, I understand God’s question: “How can you be ungrateful when you were dead, and He gave you life?”
How can we use all of those gifts He bestowed upon us to disobey Him? How can we use the strength in our legs to walk towards those places He does not like? How can we use our sight and hearing to see and hear that which He does not like? How can we bask in the light of His love and then be ungrateful by not doing what He wants of us?
That is why I am fasting now: He has showered over me so much blessing and grace, that it is no big deal that I can’t eat or drink until 7:58 PM tonight. It’s no big deal if I am a little thirsty by the end of the day (I am rarely hungry during my Ramadan fast). It’s no big deal if I can’t have my cup of coffee during the day for the next month.
Now, of course, if I become sick or it will harm my health to fast, then I must not fast. But, thank God, I am OK, and so I am fasting. Indeed, I am grateful that I am able to fast, and I ask the Lord to bless me for it. Although it is indeed hard to fast these long days – I don’t deny it – at the same time, it is an honor for me to do so.
My Lord loves me, and this is one way I can show Him that I love Him back.