I read recently that the earth can produce enough food for 10 Billion people and we know that this should result in a surplus as there are currently just over 7 Billion alive. However, 1.5 Billion people are hungry every day because of poverty, wars, famine and greed. Over 800 million people are chronically undernourished and sadly, 60% of the world’s hungry are women. Hunger is still a massive social evil that must be continually challenged.
Hunger drives a newborn baby to cry at some volume until it is satisfied with milk. It propels us to go forage or hunt or work so we can put food on our tables and in our fridges. Hunger is perpetually at work in the human body; though often people are dull to it’s full force because they have too much food. Now we face an obesity epidemic because the food we eat switches off the mechanism that says we have had enough, we are satisfied.
There is another form of hunger that we might be numb towards and that’s a spiritual hunger. Jesus knew people have this hunger and he addressed it in his famous body of teaching known as the Beatitudes. He said:
Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for you will be filled.
Blessed is actually a poor translation and a better word is ‘happy’ or ‘fortunate’. Jesus is more or less saying: you have won the lottery if you have this!
This hunger and thirst is not for a form of self-righteousness but
a longing for the things of God, to be in relationship with him and know his presence. Psalm 84 mentions this desire:
How lovely is your dwelling-place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
For the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
The writer goes on to express a sense of jealousy at the sparrow who lives in the temple, the dwelling place of God. He further adds:
Better is one day in your courts
Than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
There is this shameless hunger for God that transcends even physical hunger in the Jewish and Christian Faith. There is the acknowledgement that only God really satisfies the longing of the human psyche.
Are we, as Roger Waters put it: comfortably numb? He was possibly speaking of a childhood illness and then later his sense of alienation from the crowds he performed amongst. Are we numb to our spiritual condition? As Christians we can fall into this trap too. We can be lacking in our spiritual hunger and become unloving, insensitive and sometimes self righteous. If you have felt that I apologise. In Jesus’ all of us are equals and as Christians we don’t automatically have the higher ground. We Christians need to search afresh for our spiritual hunger in order for us to reflect the love of Jesus to all. This does not depend on our supposed goodness. No we simply have to know the power of hunger. If we hunger and thirst to be right with God, we will be satisfied.
Revd Joe Lannon (Curate)