I have been thinking about the idea of spiritual hunger recently, reflecting on my own hunger for God, or my lack thereof. So I figured I would write some thoughts as an encouragement to you guys as well as to myself.
In Jesus’ famous beatitudes, he states, “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” I recognize that probably every guy that reads this will be familiar with this passage, and yet, I am convinced that we just don’t get it.
To be honest, most of us lack capacity to understand the sensation, or should I say pain, of hunger. We simply haven’t ever gone without food. You may have chosen to fast periodically for some reason or another. You may have even gone a day without eating simply because you’ve been so busy that you haven’t had time to eat. But you have probably never really felt the utter pain of hunger that comes from days of desperately wanting and needing food when there is nothing to eat.
I remember hearing Mother Teresa share about all the pain she had witnessed in her lifetime. The interviewer asked her what was the worst thing she had seen. She said that nothing compares to the pain caused by hunger. The worst thing she had witnessed was children struggling through the physical, mental and emotional pain that comes with real hunger. Simply put, hunger hurts.
And yet, Jesus tells us that we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. That we are to desperately pursue Him and His righteousness in the same way that we would desire food if we were hungry, or water if we were thirsty. David gives us an example of how desperately he longed for God when he wrote in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
Do you long for God like that? Do you hunger for Him? Do you thirst for him?
Hunger for God is an interesting thing. It requires sacrifice. It requires warring against our flesh. It requires seeking Him first. It also requires that we believe that what He has for us is better than what we would choose for ourselves. I say this because we give ourselves to a lot of things that seem to satisfy, but in the end leave us feeling empty.
John Piper says it like this:
“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20.)”
All that to say, even God’s blessings can, if we allow it, replace our hunger and appetite for God. And if we run to other things to satisfy we simply won’t be filled, because true fulfillment and satisfaction can only be found in Christ, the one who has come that we might have life and have it to the fullest!
I challenge you to encourage one another to hunger and thirst for God this week. To help each other to seek first His Kingdom. If there is a brother that seems to long for God in a way that you desire to, invite him to lunch and ask him about his relationship with Christ. Inquire what motivates him to love Jesus and passionately pursue him. Whether it is an older brother, or perhaps a pledge, learn from each other. Challenge each other. Share heart-level information about your love and passion for Christ. By doing so, may God use you to stir one another up towards love and good deeds.
Be hungry this week because those who hunger and thirst are those who are filled!