Have you ever been hungry? I mean really hungry? I think I am really hungry if I go more than four hours without eating something! If I go any longer I usually say something like: “I am starving!” But in reality I have never been on the verge of starvation- - and thankfully so.
The topic I want us to consider here though is whether or not we hunger for spiritual things. In the beatitudes, Jesus made the statement: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). This teaching in its original language is much stronger than it appears in English. The thought is that of a famished person who comes upon a table of food. But more than desiring a portion of the food- - he wants it all!
It is interesting that Jesus used our appetite for physical food to illustrate what the intensity of our desire should be for spiritual food. Perhaps the following story will help us to see this teaching in a greater light.
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton led three British expeditions to Antarctica in the early 1900s. In 1908 he, along with three of his companions, set out from their camp in Antarctica to the South Pole. They took four horses with them, loaded with food for the journey. However, after a few weeks, the food supply was exhausted and the horses were dead. They knew they had to turn back. Shackleton reported that on the long trek back to camp they were extremely hungry. About every waking moment was given to talking about food. They dreamed of “elaborate feasts, gourmet delights and sumptuous menus.” Their need and desire for food was all-consuming.
When we can envision the physical hunger that Shackleton and his comrades experienced, then we can better grasp Jesus’ words about the “Blessed” who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” In practical terms, it is certainly more than reading the Bible every once in a while or praying if we happen to think about it or going to church when it is convenient, etc. It is a “longing for” or “strong desire for” or better yet, “craving for” spiritual things.
Note these words from the Psalmists: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1) and “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
So, are we hungry- -I mean really hungry for spiritual food?