Are we hungry for more?

Feb 22, 2016 by

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I have never really been hungry, at least not by necessity. I occasionally fast a meal (a little more frequently during this season of Lent), and like so many in our society go on a spring diet to try and lose those few extra pounds that have accumulated over the Christmas season.

My hunger is a choice.

My dieting is a choice, my hunger is a choice and there is plenty of food around to tempt me away from it, and sometimes I succumb. And of course I have lots of ways to rationalize my lack of dieting discipline.

What decisions would real hunger force me to make I wonder and how would I respond? My hunger doesn’t gnaw at my stomach because there is nothing to fill it, and I certainly don’t face the soul-destroying choice of whether to feed my family the last of the seeds I have stored or to keep them to plant in expectation of next year’s harvest and let my children starve.

Would I have the discipline to cling to the future hope of a coming harvest and hang onto seed for planting or would I succumb to the immediate desire for another meal? Would I be willing to make the choice that poor societies have made since the beginning of time to let one person starve so that others might live? In some cultures when hunger struck, the elderly made a deliberate decision to walk away and die so that others could live. In others a choice might be made to allow one child to starve so that the rest could survive.

Maybe even more importantly, how would I respond if those around me were hungry and I still had enough seed left to plant my fields in expectation of an abundant harvest? What sacrifices am I willing to make so that everyone in our world has enough?

Would I be willing to starve so that others might live?

Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. After this fast, He was, as you can imagine, hungry. But He was also curiously stronger, when the tempter came to Jesus. Devil: If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. Jesus (quoting Deuteronomy): It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone. Rather, he lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One.” (Matt. 4:1-3, The Voice)

As I reflected on the second of the weekly prompts in our Lenten guide, Hungering for Life, it occurred to me that my question: would I be willing to starve so that others might live? was very much the dilemma that Jesus faced. He had choices about how to respond to his physical hunger. He could have walked out of the desert and gone back to have a meal with friends. Even when he decided to stay, the devil had great ideas about how he could overcome those physical hunger pangs. Yet he resisted.

Jesus resisted because he knew there was more to life than the assuaging of physical cravings. The deeper hunger gnawing at his soul was a hunger to see God’s world restored and all of creation made whole. He was willing to endure physical hunger and even to face death because he knew it would mean that others would come to know life. He was willing to let the seed of his life fall into the ground and die so that it could grow and provide an abundant harvest that others could feed on.

So as we sit here this morning what is the hunger that gnaws at our souls? Is it a hunger for physical food and comfort for ourselves or is it a longing after justice, righteousness and freedom for all the peoples of the earth?

Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God Space, where this post originally appeared.

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