Word for the Weekend: Hunger

I think that we all can agree on the simple definition of hunger: the feeling of weakness or discomfort caused by a lack of food/nutrition. But do we really know what it means?

In the relative affluence of western society our working definition of hunger is dramatically different from that in third-world countries. We toss about the word so freely and carelessly that it has lost much of it’s meaning. Since the early days of Adam and Eve there has never been such an abundance of food, and yet people are still starving. We use words like hungry and starving to describe our desire for more food, and then we sate that desire. Yet statistics show that we waste roughly 1/3 of or food when 1 in 9 people don’t have enough food to provide the body’s basic nutritional requirements. Millions of children go to bed without having had any dinner, some existing on one meal a day or less. For these hungry people life is about one thing, finding food and water.

I’ve been hungry, but I’ve never known hunger.

Another use of the word hunger has nothing to do with food. We say someone is hungry when they are driven by a goal, with relentless passion and desire to achieve that goal. We hear people speak of the underdog sports team that crushed the far better team because they simply wanted the victory more. They were hungry. Then there’s the individual who outworked everyone else at her job because she was hungry for a promotion.

I’ve had desire, but I’ve never truly been hungry.

Jesus gave us a fresh vision for hunger, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 ESV).  And, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ESV). We worry endlessly, and work and struggle and strive, about and for things that don’t really matter; but we fail to pursue with passion and hunger the things that are of most importance. We concern ourselves with the things we can see because the squeaky wheel gets the grease, while spiritual things with eternal consequences are often ignored. God isn’t going to send us push notifications reminding us to spend time with Him or give our very being to pursue righteousness. We need to develop a hunger that will drive us toward Jesus!

There’s a saying in motivational circles that “you will never feel yourself into action, but you can act yourself into feeling.” In a nutshell, this means that you are unlikely to motivate yourself into action–at least long term–by your feelings, but by performing the actions consistently you will develop the feelings. This has surely been true for me physically. I don’t always want to go for a run. But I go for a run anyway. I have never regretted the decision to run, but nearly always regret staying on the couch. After I have acted by lacing up the shoes, stepping out the door and taking the first few strides, I then feel like running.

So, we need to ask ourselves–not once in a while, not just daily, but multiple times every day: How would someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness act? Then we need to lace up, step out and act. It’s alright to start small. Pick one thing and start doing it consistently. Soon it will become a habit, and then you can pick another thing or two. You will find that it will grow on you. You will develop “the eye of the tiger” in your faith walk.

Blessings on your weekend and stay hungry!

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