The Gift of Hunger

Hunger is a gift because it is through our hunger that God renews our hunger for God.

Yesterday, we began the first day of our 21 Days of Fasting and Prayer and I thought that I would share a little reflection on my experience.

In going about my fast, I’m choosing to fast one meal each day while abstaining from meat, all types of junk food, and all forms of social media for the next 21 days. So yesterday after skipping breakfast, I opted to have an acai bowl for lunch. Later that evening, while I was playing with my littlest one at an indoor park in Buena Park, I suddenly started to feel something I hadn’t felt in a very long time: hunger.

After coming off a holiday season where I had literally stuffed myself around the clock, the hunger felt especially deep and so real. And I thought to myself, “It’s only Day 1 – what’s going to happen to me during the remainder of the fast?"

As the hunger pangs began to deepen moment by moment, I felt the Lord reminding me of an important truth – “Jeff, hunger is a gift."

Hunger is a gift…

I realized what the Lord said is true.  And here’s one reason why:

Hunger is a gift because it is through our hunger that God renews our hunger for God.

John Piper says this in his book, A Hunger for God:

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the God’s presence in your life, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuff with small things, and there is no room for the great God.“

In other words, the reason why we lose our hunger for God and the things of God is because we’ve become so easily satisfied feasting on so many other things other than Him.  

We're constantly nibbling on our phones for hours a day – Instagram, Facebook, or ESPN.  

We nibble on our video games and copious amounts of Netflix, Youtube, or Hulu.

We nibble on shopping and buying the things we fancy.  

And of course, we nibble on food - lots of food… lots of good food. OC is home to some of the best food in the world IMHO. And as one friend commented, “It would be hard to live a lifestyle of fasting here with so many good food choices available.”

When we become too easily satisfied with the things of earth, our desire to partake from the Bread of Heaven will begin to wane. Our desire to feast at the banquet table of God will diminish.

This is why the psalmist in Psalm 34:8 invites us to see for ourselves: “Taste and see that the Lord is… GOOD.” (emphasis added)

The problem isn’t so much that God isn’t satisfying; the problem is that we’re just too busy getting satisfied by things other than God.

You see, the problem isn’t so much that God isn’t satisfying; the problem is that we’re just too busy getting satisfied by things other than God.

This past week, my family went up to Los Angeles to celebrate New Year’s with my parents.  As I was driving up, I suddenly heard the sound of crunching and crackling coming from the back seat of our minivan. My two oldest children had ripped into a bag of Honey Butter Chips and ate as if they’d never been fed in their life (imagine the Cookie Monster and how he devours his cookies - that’s how my kids devoured their chips).

When we arrived, my mom laid out an impressive spread across their lengthy dining table. It was a thing of beauty. Yet, I noticed that my two children seemed unimpressed and uninterested. And as it came time to eat dinner, I noticed both of them were struggling to eat their food. When I asked them why they weren’t eating all of this good food, they said, “I’m not hungry”.  And I reminded them, “Of course you’re not hungry, because you just filled your stomach with all of that junk food.”  

As I stood there shaking my head at them, I was reminded that I do the same thing. Except that my version of “junk food” isn’t called Honey Butter Chips – it’s called Instagram, Facebook, and the internet.

How about you? What is keeping you from coming to the table of the Lord?

What hinders you from feasting on true manna, His Word?

What is robbing you of the experience of feasting from the bread of His presence?

Through this Daniel Fast, may the Lord bless you again with the gift of hunger. And through that hunger, may your hunger for God and the things of God be renewed.

There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. Turn away from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: ‘This much, O God, I want you.’
— John Piper, A Hunger for God, pg. 23