During my quiet time this morning before the ladies arrived, the Lord led me to this scripture verse in Psalm 107:8-9 that says, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” WOW, God! That’s what we’re talking about in our meeting today - Hunger! How did You know?! ;) He’s just cool that way!
That awesome reminder that God does know everything in us and about us, led me to dig deeper and read all of Psalm 107. What emerged was a vivid picture of four distinct groups of people who each had a specific hunger/need. Each group received a divine intervention, troublesome as it was, that led them to cry out to the Lord and ultimately have their true hunger/need satisfied by the only One who can truly satisfy. Read the Psalm, then keep the pages open as we break it down below.
The first three verses are an introduction of sorts, setting the stage for what we as believers are intended to apply from what we’re about to read: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this - those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” That about covers all of us! So what is the “this” we’re supposed to say? It’s very simple: He is GOOD and His love endures forever!
Of course the enemy is trying to make us believe and say what is opposite to the truth. The message he wants to be declared throughout the world is that the Lord is NOT good, and that His love will fail us. That, my friends, as you can see clearly from God’s Word, is the farthest thing from the truth!
So if you get nothing more out of reading this blog, get this: God is GOOD. His love endures FOREVER! Amen!
So with that truth firmly established in our hearts and minds, let us move on to the four groups of people that emerge from the text:
WANDERERS (verses 4-9)
This group of people are lost and empty, homeless, hungry, and thirsty - nearing death. The very things they are suffering, their hunger and thirst, are the very things that drive them to cry out to the Lord. He rescues them from their distress, and leads them straight to safety and gives them a home, satisfying their deep hunger and thirst. He gives them the free gift of salvation! All He desires in response? Thankfulness and praise for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds toward them.
PRISONERS (verses 10-16)
This group is in the pit of darkness! They are suffering from deep despair and miserable bondage. Their rebellion against God’s Word and His wisdom has brought them to this dungeon of bitterness and hard labor. When they fall in the darkness and find no one to rescue them or help them rise again, they cry out to the Lord. Again, the very things that caused such distress for these people are the very things that caused them to hurt enough to cry out to God. His mercy in disguise. When they cried out He saved them, brought them out of their dark prison of gloom, and broke their chains and bonds, forever making them free! The same response is desired from their Rescuer: Give thanks and praise for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds toward them.
FOOLS (verses 17- 22)
This group is similar to the Prisoners in that they rebelled against God. But their rebellion is more than just a rejection of His Word and His wisdom. It is outright sin, acting against His ways, and thus suffering affliction directly caused by their sin. This group of people, in stark contrast to the Wanderers, has completely lost their appetite. Nothing satisfies them anymore. They loathe all food and are starving to death. Like addicts, they have grown tolerant to their addiction. It is not until they see the destruction of their body, mind, and spirit that they realize they are nearly dead and cry out to the Lord. He steps right in and heals them with the power of His Word, snatching them from the very door of death. Oh that they would give thanks and praise for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward them! He wants them to tell of His works and sing about it with joy!
SUCCESSFUL / PRIDEFUL (verses 23-32)
This last group is successful in the world and possibly as well in the work of the Kingdom. I believe this group is comprised of believers and non-believers alike. These people are like prideful businessmen on the sea of success - eyewitnesses to the goodness of God and the virtue of His principles at work in all they do. But God does something to “help” this group see that while they feel they are above the despair and suffering of the first three groups of people, they are only one storm away from losing it all. God causes great waves of terror to toss them higher and deeper than they’ve ever gone before. When they see their own weakness, and come to the end of themselves, they cry out to they Lord. He once again rescues from trouble, calming the storm to a peaceful whisper, stilling the waves, and guides them to the safe and truly satisfying harbor of His love. His desire, once more, is for them to praise and thank Him for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward them. He ads the call to exalt Him publicly - both in ministry to His people and to the entire world.
Each of these groups of people suffered pain - pain that led them to recognize their true hunger/need. Pain of any sort is a merciful gift of God. Pain alerts us that we are in danger. Without pain, we are unaware of our own immanent destruction. Imagine putting your hand on a hot stove. The pain you feel causes you to immediately jerk your hand from the stove and thus your hand is saved from total destruction. What if you couldn’t feel the pain? You may not realize that your hand was being destroyed until you smelled burning flesh. We often curse God for our sufferings rather than thank Him for the pain that alerts us to take our hand off the stove.
Hunger, like pain, is good because it alerts us to our need SO THAT we can meet our need and not suffer the awful consequences of destruction, despair, and death that will take place in our spirits, hearts, minds, and bodies if we ignore hunger’s warning. Our God is using our very areas of suffering and affliction, our areas of captivity and bondage, to show us our desperate need for deliverance and press us to cry out to the only true source of that deliverance.
Those who have wrestled with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia have misinterpreted hunger pain as a sign of victory. Those who have wrestled with gluttony, binging or overeating in general are often afraid to feel hunger at all, and eat proactively to avoid those hunger pains. Both groups are missing out on the blessing of hunger. Physical hunger is designed to alert us that our body is in need of food. We need to meet our body’s need for fuel and nutrients, not just make the hunger go away.
Similarly, emotional/heart hunger is designed to alert us that our hearts are in need of love, companionship, significance, acceptance…Head hunger (or mental distress) is designed to alert us that our minds are in need of truth, peace, stimulation, God’s Word, information, creativity, knowledge…Spirit hunger is designed to alert us of our need for God - for His unconditional love, His Holy Spirit, salvation, discipleship, mission and calling.
In each area of hunger - Head, Heart, Spirit, Body - are you a Wanderer? A Prisoner? A Fool? Prideful in your Success? Cry out to the Lord! He will meet your deepest hunger and fulfill your true need.
Are you balanced in all four areas of hunger? Remember balance is not compromise. Compromise would leave us with unmet hungers. Balance fills us up in all areas each time we hunger. Balance is like the solid and whole foundation of a house. A trustworthy foundation that can be built upon. Any problem in the walls, roof, or floor of the house are all problems with the foundation. Remember, He desires us to be whole, not full of holes!
In His mercy God often sets up strong boundary lines to produce a solid foundation and to protect us from attacks against that foundation. These boundaries can feel hard at times, but what sometimes seems like the harshness of God is in actuality His mercy! When you read some of the commandments in the old testament you can draw the false conclusion that God is not good. But His strong commandments were intended to protect and keep His people from loss and destruction. His love is depicted in His laws, His truth, as much as it is in His grace. Love is the highest of all joys and the deepest of all sorrows. The capacity for each extreme is the definition of true love. Love is not a happy feeling or emotional euphoria. Love is opening yourself up to the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. That is exactly what our Lord has done for us in loving us with an unfailing love.
Why did God design us to need to eat multiple times a day? Wouldn’t it have been easier if He had made us, like some animals, to only need to eat once a day, or even once a week?! But He didn’t. I believe He wants us to daily, multiple times each day, feel hunger and need to be satisfied. For ultimately we are to hunger and thirst for Him, for His righteousness. He doesn’t want us to be satisfied with anything less than all of Himself. “Good enough” is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s not that we can never measure up or never please Him fully. It’s that He loves us so much that He is willing to continue to work in us and on us for our good and for the good of those in our lives, who we are called to touch. He wants us to hunger so that we will turn to Him and He can fill us up!
Remember the ferns on my front porch? They’re looking really good! I’ve got the tools in place to water them well and for them to thrive. Last week we noticed in John 15 that while branches that don’t produce fruit are cut off and burned, those that do produce fruit are pruned so that they will produce more fruit. I noticed that even though my ferns are looking really good, they do have some dead leaves that need to be pruned. But to me they are good enough. It’s not that I don’t care about my ferns - I do! It’s just that I don’t care enough to put in the work to take them down from their hangers, pull off the chains, pluck off all the dead branches, rearrange them in their baskets, and re-hang them! It’s not worth it to me - they are good enough. But God isn’t like me with my ferns. He never tires, never grows weary of pruning us. He is overjoyed to see us thrive! He is more than willing to put in the work and time it takes to cause us to be even more fruitful.
With that in mind, look at this scripture in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
He has taken hold of you - His prized fern, to prune you and to produce more fruit!
Can you let Him take hold of you?
Are there “dead leaves” in your life that you can allow Him prune and cut away?
Can you forget what is behind and press on toward what is ahead - the prize?
We are His prize and He is our Prize!
Don’t fight against His pruning hand!
What does He want out of all of this pain and hunger? He wants us to CRY OUT TO HIM!
He is waiting to save you, deliver you, heal you, and satisfy you!
Thank Him and praise Him for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds toward you!
YOU are what He wants!
All glory and praise to Our Most High God!