What Are You Hungry For?
Food and drink have a satisfying effect for our bodies and souls. Think about your first sip of coffee as you start your day. Imagine a homemade meal after a hard day’s work. Or bring to mind your favorite dessert or comfort food when you sit down to watch a show in the evening.
Through these dining experiences, it’s not just that our physical hunger is satisfied, nor is it simply that our physical thirst is quenched. Scripture says that good drink can “gladden the heart of man,” and good food is able to “strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:15), not just our bodies. The taste and the nourishment combine to give us what we need and fill us both physically and (in a way) spiritually.
Why has God designed life this way? He could have made us completely self-sufficient for energy and strength. Or He could have made us receive nourishment in the way a car is filled up with gas. The car is dependent on gasoline, but we wouldn’t say the car is joyfully satisfied when we give it a fill-up.
However, for humans, God has created us such that eating and drinking bring strength to our bodies and hearts. A good meal satisfies and fills us in ways that other parts of creation will never understand.
And it seems that one of the reasons God designed life this way was to show us how He satisfies us. In Psalm 63, David writes,
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (v. 5).
Knowing God satisfies David’s soul in the same way that a rich, hearty meal satisfies his stomach. After enjoying a delicious meal, we often can’t help but thank and compliment the chef. In the same way, when David experiences the satisfying fullness of God’s love, he says that his mouth will then praise God with joyful lips.
Similarly, in Psalm 107:9, the writer says that God “satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” The longing and hungering of our bellies corresponds with the longing and hungering of our souls. And God satisfies our soul hunger with all sorts of good things. God’s love, presence, and kindness all quench our deepest desires and yearnings.
A Satisfying Supper for Thousands
The feeding of the five thousand in Luke 9 is another vivid demonstration of this truth. In the middle of journeying between towns, there is no obvious food source for the crowds who are following Jesus. But the sun is setting, and it’s getting close to supper time. The disciples urge Jesus to send the crowds away so they can start to make provisions for themselves. Jesus, however, wants to show the disciples that in Him, the crowds have everything they will ever need. He wants to show them that He is able to fully satisfy every hungry soul.
So, Jesus has the disciples arrange the crowds into groups scattered across a field. He takes what little bread and fish they have and speaks a quick blessing over the food. The disciples then go to Jesus to start loading up their service baskets. As they begin serving the crowd, they return to Jesus for more food to serve the next group, and Jesus never runs out. The story ends in v. 17 when Luke reports that the crowd “all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.”
When Jesus hosts a meal, no one is left out, and no one is left unsatisfied. They all ate, and they all were satisfied.
“I can’t get no satisfaction”
The brokenness of our world often leaves us feeling half-full, if not totally depleted. Disappointing circumstances, unfulfilled dreams, difficult relationships, and all sorts of painful experiences can lead us to believe that we’ll forever be stuck, less than satisfied. And, even when things go well for us in life, we can come down with what author Patrick Morley calls “success sickness.” This sickness occurs when we get everything we want in life (great job, nice house, growing family, etc.), but we still have this lingering unsatisfaction deep in our hearts.
So, whether we succeed or struggle in life, it seems that we are relegated to a famished existence (see Ecclesiastes 1–2).
But this is what makes the gospel “good news.” Jesus came to satisfy thirsty souls and relieve hungry hearts (John 4:13–14; 7:38). By receiving His love and grace that flows from the cross, we can finally stop “striving after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14), seeking to fill ourselves in the temporary pleasures of the world. Instead, we can experience true and lasting satisfaction through knowing that we are loved, accepted, and redeemed in Christ. In Him, we are filled to overflowing, and we are provided for to the point of having leftovers.
Written by: C.T. Eldridge
Published by Woodside Bible Church, www.woodsidebible.org