Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Matt 5:6 (NIV)
Blessed Are Those Who Hunger – Hunger Series – Part 1
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matt 5:6 (NIV).
To which we’ve all said, “Yes and Amen.” We want to be righteous, and we want to be filled.
But filled with what? God? How? What does that feel like, look like, taste like?
Is it once filled, always filled? Once satiated, always satiated?
And what is righteousness, how do we hunger and thirst for it?
Is it good deeds and upright morality?
Is it the absence of sin and the presence of holiness?
And what about all those other niggling hungers? You know the ones:
Fear, panic, worry, pain, anger… not to mention revenge and ambition. On the flip side, joy and love and beauty and hope are their own kind of hunger, too.
I was reading “The Philosophers Stone” to my kids and came to the part where Harry saw his parents for the first time in his life:
“The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.” (1.)
I teared up as I sat on the floor in my kid's room in the dark. I connected with those words the instant I read them. I’ve felt that powerful ache, too. The half joy, half sadness/terror that hunger feels like.
Whether it's for change, a break, a miracle, career, love, time, hope – whatever; hunger is what it feels like when emptiness becomes restless and craves to be filled.
Can I address for a line or two that these are not dirty words? I don’t know if it's just me and the context of my upbringing, but we (me and my friends) always thought that desire and hunger would lead to sin. And they were almost always associated with things of a sexual nature. As if that is bad, too.
Spiritual longing, hunger, is something we all feel deep in our bones. But sometimes it seems difficult to know what to do with our appetites. Do we run with ambition? Do we seek satisfaction? Do we allow hunger to drive us?
How do we learn to balance “striving towards the goal,” and “learning to be content” as Paul talked about in Philippians 3 and 4?
No matter how much I read, sing, walk, listen, pray, meditate, exercise – all of it – the longing never fully goes away. It’s like that itchy spot on your back that you can never quite reach. The questions never seem to land on a definitive, final answer. The desire never seems to be fully satisfied. It all leads to more hunger, more questions, and even, a deeper sense of longing.
After all, you don’t eat once. After a while, the stomach empties creating room for more, and hunger returns.
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men [and women] feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” CS Lewis. (2.)
I guess we just have to figure out what that real thing is… and how to make it last, and if we’re meant to.
- Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. By JK Rowling. Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Mere Christianity. By CS Lewis.
Written by Lizzy Milani