“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6, ESV)
What does spiritual hunger look like to you?
Is it in that person on his knees, hands raised high in the air, head tilted back, tears streaming down his cheeks as he cries out for more of God?
Is it in the brand new Christian, full of the zeal of her first love, devouring chapter upon chapter of the Bible as she experiences each sacred book therein for the very first time?
Is it in the elderly brother who has walked with the Lord intimately for so many years that the smile in his eyes glows luminescent with the light of God?
What about the one who has served Him for quite a while, and has crashed face first into yet another agonizingly difficult trial? The one who is finding it painfully hard just to get out of bed this morning? That one whose heart is bleeding and for whom prayer is a painstaking effort? That one who feels like God is distant right now – what about her? Does she count as spiritually hungry and thirsty?
We may not always recognize spiritual appetite if we have a romanticized view of it. Yes, it might sometimes look like one of those first three descriptions. However, being hungry and thirsty for righteousness is not necessarily a pleasant, enjoyable feeling. Oftentimes, it’s quite the opposite.
I remember, growing up in church, that we would frequently sing, “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee…” A lovely song. Profound, poetic. Right out of Psalm 42. I imagine you may have sung it too? Here is the graceful Scripture is comes from: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2b, NKJV). Beautiful, right? Inspiring?
However, did you ever notice the context of this deeply passionate appeal? In just the very next verse, the psalmist is expressing agony. “My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’” (v. 3). This is no Holy Ghost goose bump moment. This cry for God is born out of deep anguish.
Spiritual hunger will take many different forms over the course of our lifetime. There are occasions when it may also present itself as a subtle discomfort in the soul. Maybe you feel uneasy, and you’re not sure what is “off.” Stop. Pause. Listen with your spirit. This may be exactly akin to the hunger you experience after a nonstop day where you’ve hardly had a chance to eat. Maybe that unsettled feeling is hunger!
No matter what trial or triumph is flavoring your present reality, you can train yourself to tune into the appetite of your spirit. In every season, your inner being needs God even more than you require physical food, water, or even oxygen. Learn to recognize the many distinct ways that the craving for God can manifest itself in your heart – and then run after Him with all that is within you! Your life depends on it.