My Uncle Bob grew up hating lima beans. But during army boot camp training, his taste took an unexpected turn. One late evening he returned to the cafeteria, ravenous from an all-day post, to find just one item remaining: lima beans. With no other option, he heaped a generous portion onto his plate. And as he began to chow down, an amazing thing happened: those lima beans tasted delicious! When faced with true hunger, what he used to pass over with disdain suddenly became quite palatable.
My uncle’s story has long been a lesson to me in a spiritual truth. I have found when I am hurting in one way or another, my need is frequently the thing that drives me to seek the Lord. Suddenly I am all ears, eager for any bit of reassurance or guidance He can give. But when all is right in my world, I spend much less energy looking to Him and listening for His leading.
As Calvin Miller wrote in The Song: “When the flesh feeds itself, the hunger of the spirit is forgotten.”
God created us with a need for Him. But our tendency in the flesh is to fill that gaping hole with substitutes. We look to things like careers, people, or material possessions to make us feel significant or whole. As if those temporary things could ever satiate our hunger for God’s presence and peace!
God’s desire for us is to be in an intimate, trusting relationship with Him.
Keeping ourselves from hunger pains can work against that goal. We quickly forget our need for Him when the substitutes we have chosen provide temporary satisfaction. Jesus once told his disciples: “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24 NASB) Their riches don’t disqualify them. It’s the self-sufficiency that comes with comfort that can keep people from bowing to the cross.
So, in his wisdom and love, God frequently gives us reminders of our need for him. Difficulties in our lives are not in spite of the goodness of God. In reality, they happen because of the goodness of God. We turn to God when we need.
We might pass over limas altogether should we never know what it is to hunger.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34: 8 (NASB)
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was released in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, Julie spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com or on Facebook.
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Join the conversation: Have there been ways in which you have dulled your hunger for God?