God's Grace in Hunger
The organization Bread for the World tells us that everyone feels hungry on a daily basis. Most people are able to satisfy this craving and need. Even if not immediately, they can count on having a meal or snack within hours.
Tragically, some of our brothers and sisters in the world who suffer chronic hunger don’t have the option of eating when they are hungry. They do not get enough calories, essential nutrients, or both. People who are hungry have an ongoing problem with getting food to eat. They have a primary need — how to feed themselves and their children today and tomorrow. They have little energy for anything else.
It is commonly known that the cause of hunger in the world is not a shortage of food but rather access to food. Some people are hungry because food is in short supply in their area and for a specific reason. It may be because they can’t afford to buy enough food. It may be both.
Some countries have a “hunger season” every year. It's when the previous harvest is gone and the next harvest is not yet ready.
The United States doesn’t have that kind of a hunger season, but for many families, some weeks are hungrier than others. These usually come toward the end of the month, as families run short of food before they have money to buy more. People can’t simply decide to spend less on rent, but if necessary, they can spend less on food.
For many low-wage workers, retirees, people with disabilities, and their families, even careful planning cannot stretch the grocery budget throughout the month. Less expensive — and less nutritious — filler foods can keep children’s stomachs from growling, but they can’t provide what children need to grow and learn. Adults who are missing meals because they can’t afford to buy food can’t concentrate as well at work.
We know that hunger and thirst are natural expressions of the basic human desire and need for food and water. One of the clear indicators that something is wrong physically is when we lose our appetite. It is the same spiritually. To hunger and thirst for God is at the very root of our being. It’s the way God made us. When there is no hunger for the presence of God, it is an indicator that something is wrong spiritually. Because that hunger is so basic to human nature, it can often seek fulfillment in other areas rather than in seeking God. Much as eating unhealthy junk food can dull physical appetite, so that which is not of God can dull our spiritual appetite.
Our search for happiness and fulfillment in any area except in our relationship with God is a clear indication of our spiritual hunger. It may be in human relationships, quest for power or money, or escape to physical pleasure. Sometimes, when overwhelmed by temptation, we allow our appetite for God to be dulled by other things . . . even religious things. Some churches are filled with believers who are so satiated by activities, programs and projects that they no longer have a hunger for God.
So many today snack their way through the day on “junk-food” activities and then find they have no time to “feast” with God. We complain about our “busyness” and tiredness, but that is typically a spiritual problem more than a problem of schedule. Sometimes we desire everything except God. We take God in small doses throughout the day and week and somehow hope that on Sunday we can “catch up” on our time with the Lord.
As we continue our Lenten journey, we come to Meeting God's Grace in Hunger - physical hunger and spiritual hunger. This Lent, let's commit to satisfying both - for ourselves and those around us!