Fear, anger, hunger. All can be normal, healthy feelings. If a grizzly bear is chasing me through the forest, fear is absolutely healthy and helpful! If I get angry when I see a child being abused, that is a good and motivating anger. If it’s 9PM and I haven’t eaten all day, I need to listen to those hunger pangs.
But our enemy is all too skilled and practiced in turning these God given feelings into unhealthy and sinful behavior.
If I sit wringing my hands in worry over an event that has precisely .00002 percent chance of happening, my fear pulls me away from my relationship with God and trust in Him. If I lash out when someone unknowingly offends me, that anger has control of me, not the Holy Spirit. If I feed every hunger, even though I know logically I’ve already had enough to eat, then my belly has become my god (Phil 3:19), instead of my Savior.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul recounts the multitude of tremendous trials he has endured for the the love of God and the love of the Body of Christ. He reminds the Corinthians of what He has been through to bring them the gospel and the teaching of Christ. In the middle of his list of difficulties he lists hunger.
Paul went hungry for the sake of others. Where would we be today if Paul had put his own comfort and desires above the will of God? What if he had sought satisfaction for his belly instead of the calling of Christ?
You know who else set this example for us?
The first was His temptation in the wilderness. Jesus had been fasting for forty days. Then Satan came and tempted Him with food. Even though He was very hungry, He refused. Why? He was obedient to the Father. If He hadn’t been obedient, He couldn’t have been our Savior. If He hadn’t been obedient, He wouldn’t be our example.
The second was on the cross. In his gospel, John relates how Jesus, hanging on the cross, crown of thorns pressed into His head, waited. He waited until all His Father’s work was done.
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!'” (John 19:28)
Jesus put the will of His Father above the desires of His flesh – even when He was in agony.
We have numerous examples in Scripture of what happens when people serve their cravings rather than God. Most notable are the Israelites. They “willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they crave” (Psalm 78:18). They chose their bellies over God, and that choice had life-changing ramifications. That generation traded God’s abundance for desert wanderings.
I echo Lysa TerKeurst in her book “Made to Crave” –
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wander about in a ‘desert,’ unable to enter into the abundant life God has for me because I willfully put Him to the test over food!”
So I wonder, should we always obey hunger?
Is hunger always a truth requiring action? A truth that I must obey? Obviously I don’t obey my full signals, otherwise I wouldn’t be on this journey. But I usually obey hunger, those momentary pangs trump most everything when they arrive.
But when I obey hunger I makes rationalizations and excuses. When I obey hunger I let it take hold of my emotions – mostly the grumpy one. When I obey hunger I take my mind off of the one who made both my belly and food to fill it.
Sometimes I must ignore hunger if it interferes with my obedience to my God.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
1 Corinthians 6:12-14
Please don’t mistake me. I’m in no way condoning starving ourselves and I’m not necessarily encouraging fasting. The challenge I want to present to you and me is this: choose to feed our relationship with God over our relationship with food. To let our Gentle Shepherd lead us rather than our voracious appetites.
Thank you for sending Your Son to not only save us from the penalty of our sin, but to also be the perfect example we can look to for help in every area of life. Jesus, and many many who follow Him, have shown us how to truly love You – by obeying Your eternal will instead of our temporary desires.
I am so thankful that You are continuing to refine me and make me more like Your Son. Even in this area of food.
Help me Lord, to replace my hunger for unhealthy treats and overindulgence with hunger and thirst for Your righteousness (Matthew 5:6). I trust You to satisfy in a deeper an more powerful way than any delicious tidbit.
Thank you Lord that obedience in this way brings relatively quick results: weight loss, more energy, better sleep. Help me to also be obedient in areas where results are often delayed for years or even until heaven.
I choose to love You more than food.
P.S. – It’s Wednesday weigh-in day. My results today were more encouraging than last week’s. Down another 1.8 pounds – I’ll take it!