Monday, February 26, 2018

Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NIV)

I remember the first time I attempted a spiritual fast. I was a college sophomore. I don’t remember the reason for the fast, but I do remember the brownies I had made the previous day that were sitting in the kitchen. From the time I got home from classes that day, they had been calling my name. I was hungry, very hungry, and those dark brown, deliciously looking squares kept drawing me into the kitchen. Unlike Jesus, who resisted Satan’s temptation to make bread and eat it, I finally in desperation grabbed one of the brownies and stuffed into my mouth.

Although I failed in keeping my first fast, that experience has stayed with me. For the first time in my life I experienced true hunger pangs, and the result was they drove me to eat even though I was determined not to.

When Jesus speaks of hunger and thirst, he is speaking to an audience who understood what it meant to have no food and water readily available. They were poor and lived in a desert region.  They knew hunger and thirst. It was the primary driver of their daily lives. So when He said they would be blessed if they “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” they could easily imagine what that meant.

Thinking back to my first fasting attempt, the moment I awoke that day, I was obsessed with food. I thought about it. I noticed every sign advertising it. I stared at anyone eating a snack in class. On the way home that day, I began to think about the brownies. And once the thought of them got into my brain, I couldn’t think of much of anything else.

When we are deprived of something essential, it won’t take much time before the longing for it takes over our minds, whether it be food, drink, or money. Someone caught in a famine, lost in a desert, or living in an economic depression will be focused on practically nothing else.

So it is, then, when someone hungers and thirsts for righteousness. The pursuit is driven by the need, and Jesus says the person who has it will be blessed. Yet, I wonder how many of us truly feel this need. Looking around at churches and on campus, I don’t see much hunger and thirst for being right with God, nor can I say honestly that I always feel the same intensity for pursuing the Lord as I felt on that day long ago for food when I intentionally deprived myself of it.

It is tempting at this point to feel guilty, but I don’t think that was the Lord’s intention. Instead, I think He is merely telling us the truth and if we want to embrace it, we will be blessed.  And the truth is when we insist on attempting to fulfill our deepest desires with worldly things, we will miss out on wonderful blessings. But if we have the same desire for the Lord as the hungry and thirsty person has for food and drink, then we will find countless blessings. 

Today, if you want to hunger and thirst after the Lord, then ask Him to give you that deep desire that leads you to think of almost nothing else. Years ago, a plate of brownies called my name and I, in desperation, answered it. May it be the same when we sense the Lord calling each of us. For when we do, we will be blessed.

© Jim Musser 2018

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