Choosing to Let Myself Feel Hungry

It was hot and humid. Our family had just joined YWAM staff and purchased an old mobile home in East Texas. Within a couple weeks, the worn central air conditioner died. The repairman said it would take at least $1200 to replace it, yet we barely had money to put gas in our car and buy food. Doubts plagued us over whether we had really heard God when we joined the mission. Working in YWAM wasn’t turning out to be as easy as we thought. Everything felt so hard. Things were not coming together as I believed they should. My wife was giving me the look that said, “I don’t think I can do this.” And did I mention that it gets very hot and humid in East Texas?

This went on for months. Self-condemnation weighed heavily. I was a terrible husband, father and missionary, perhaps even ruining my family. I tried sending out an appeal letter for help with our A/C unit but received a total of $25. Just as the heat of summer began to intensify once more and we were discussing leaving the mission, something happened. 

One sultry evening as we cried together, our air conditioner started pumping out cool air. At first we thought it was the final gasp before oblivion, a closing taunt. But days, then weeks went by with the central unit faithfully purring and cooling our little home. Eight years later when God provided a bigger house in town, that very same A/C unit, with no mechanical intervention, was still producing cold air!

A lesson learned: God heals air conditioners.

Other Lessons

This little miracle became a reference point for Christine and me. Not only did we see that God provides, we saw that He doesn’t always do things the way we think He should. In addition, I heard Him saying that He was with us and that circumstances were never to be what defined my identity and calling—a lesson I’m still working to fully apply. 

But the lesson that shook me the most was the realization that God uses seasons of desperation to shape us and show us who He is. Desperation has the potential to purify us of things that distract and prevent us from seeing God’s true character. It helps determine what’s truly important. When pursuing God, desperation is my friend.

As a kid, I remember being held under water at a lake by an older and stronger cousin who thought it funny to see me thrash about. My burning lungs turned me into a wild child. By the time he released my head his arms were scratched and bleeding. Desperation focused all my thoughts and energy on the one thing I suddenly knew was most important: getting oxygen. God is my oxygen. He simply wants me to know it and seek it from Him above all else.

What Precedes a Miracle?

Look through the stories recorded in the New Testament Gospels. What did all the recipients of Jesus’ miracles have in common? 

  • Take the man with leprosy mentioned in Mark 1:40-42. In a society with laws prohibiting those with “unclean” skin diseases approaching those who were well, this man boldly came close to Jesus and asked to be healed. What drove him? Desperation for companionship and family connections. 
  • There was Jairus, the synagogue ruler who dropped all Jewish-religious-leader pretensions and fell on his knees begging Jesus to heal his daughter (Mark 5:21-43). He was desperate to keep his little girl alive. 
  • There’s the story of the blind men calling out to Jesus when the crowds around were telling them to be quiet. They were desperate for a more dignified way of life where they could see (Matthew 20:29-33). 
  • And there’s the Syro-Phoenician woman, intensely desiring her daughter’s freedom and yet not put-off by what sounded like harsh comments from Jesus (Mark 7:27). 
  • They all ended up receiving something from Jesus as they pressed into Him. When hope in everything else was gone, they reached deep into their hearts and found a tiny mustard seed of faith that provided what was needed to step toward Jesus.

Content with “Junk Food”?

Then there are Jesus’ words: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 ESV). Is there anyone who enjoys feeling hungry or thirsty, especially if you have no idea when you’re going to get relief? On the contrary, we work hard to avoid these sensations. To be intensely hungry is something that no decent person should wish on another. Yet Jesus said this kind of hungry desperation for good things opens the door for true blessing. Seasons of hungering and thirsting come before the blessing of long-term satisfaction.

But we often give up just to prevent the feeling of hunger from becoming too intense. We find “another way” or convince ourselves that we’ve been expecting too much from God. Shifting to something other than what God has promised takes our minds off our desperate state and provides short-term relief. We settle. 

Rather than waiting for the sumptuously nutritious meal we’ve been offered, we satisfy ourselves with a quick fix—the spiritual equivalent of junk food.  It takes the edge off our hunger but leaves us sickly. We never taste the goodness of what our Heavenly Father had in mind for us, and we stop hungering for God’s will. We relieve our stress by feeling a little more in-control of our lives, but at what price? No longer hungry, we’ve chosen the path of spiritual malnourishment.

Hold On!

Christine and I were ready to give up and take the “junk-food” option. We were depressed and feeling sorry for ourselves. Our broken air conditioner represented everything that felt wrong about our lives. It was also an excuse for saying that this way of trying to obey God wasn’t working for us. We desired relief from the discomfort more than the fulfillment of God’s word. Life was looking easier and tastier in another “food line”—which happened to be any other place than where we were at the moment. 

Little did we realize, however, that the malfunctioning air unit was an opportunity to see God and live our lives in a new way, which is what we had been praying for. We just had to choose to not give up. Real nourishing food was coming!

Perseverance is not learned in a classroom or from a book. Yet it is one of the most important qualities of a Jesus follower. You just have to do it! Many of the most wonderful things God has for you are still in the future. You can let today’s feelings of emptiness or lack lead you to hunger even more for what He has promised. Or you can let them derail you from the track He has you on and try to satisfy yourself with “food” of your own making. 

You get to choose how you’re going to respond to the moments and seasons of desperate hunger. But no matter how hard things feel today, He’s there to nourish you with His presence if you’ll just hold on to Him.

 Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is get up in the morning. Choose to show up for what God has for you today. Good things are coming.

Response:

  • What has God promised that I no longer have a hunger for? 
  • Where in my life do I want to give up? What would it take to go on another day?
  • When in my life has desperation pushed me away from God? When has it taken me closer to Him?
  • Jesus, what do you want to speak to me today in my place of desperate hunger?

One Comment on “Choosing to Let Myself Feel Hungry

  1. Pingback: Choosing to Desire Well – Choose This Day

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