Have you ever been hungry, I mean really hungry? We’ve all missed a meal here or there or ate late or had to wait a long time for a table…but that isn’t the famished kind of hungry.
I had to attend a search and evasion school when I first joined the Navy. We sat in a few classes to learn the basics of how to “survive in the wild” but it was mostly about not getting caught in a combat evasion situation. After the classes we put on our flight suits, grabbed a canteen of water and went into the field (training area). The school was in Maine and it was June so not too cool but it did rain a lot. The woods are pretty thick up there so that made it easier to hide. I was on the run for 4 days with nothing to eat other than a cup of “soup” supplied by a “sympathetic local” one rainy night. It felt very real even though it was a school. Then we “got caught” and spent some time in “interviews.” Right, it was interrogation. I don’t recommend it. So by the end of the week I had gone almost 6 days without food while expending more than a few calories. It really was a “crash diet.” Do you get it? Pilot shot down, running from guys with guns… Ha Ha.
I was pretty hungry at the end of that week. The funny thing is you stop thinking about food at some point. I have fasted before and the same thing happens. At some point food isn’t so important. You have moments of hunger but it usually passes. I’ve never fasted for 40 days like Jesus and Moses so I have no idea how hungry you get when you go that long without food. I have heard it is really intense towards the end.
So I would say I don’t know what it means to be famished to the point of desperation. That is what the word hunger means in this verse:
Matt 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (ESV)
I am however beginning to understand this kind of “hunger” for God. I have such a powerful desire for more of Him. He gave it to me and I am on a quest for more. I believe He gives all of us that hunger when we “say yes” to Him. Just like the man who said to Jesus “I believe, help me in my unbelief,” God will increase our desire for Him. Check out this quote:
“The secret of spiritual success is a hunger that persists…It is an awful condition to be satisfied with one’s spiritual attainments…God was and is looking for hungry, thirsty people.” ― Smith Wigglesworth
Smith Wigglesworth (funny name I know) was a powerful man of God. People were often overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit when He spoke. There were always miracles when he ministered to people. He was definitely hungry and pursued God with a relentless passion. I believe that is why God answered his prayers for more of Him.
Do you know this isn’t a new story or concept?
Jacob, son of Isaac, was a hungry man. He really really wanted to be a prince on Earth. He wanted a legacy. He wanted wealth. He wanted prosperity. He wanted recognition. There is one problem. He often cheated to get what he wanted. Jacob’s name actually means supplanter. That is a word we don’t use much but it’s like when you were a kid and you went to your friend’s birthday party. Their parents were cool so they bought a pinata. You and all your “competition” (kids really want candy) are in a circle around the dangling burro and crash…out comes all the candy. The really mean kid next to you (not you of course) trips everyone, knocks down the little cute blonde girl next door, steps on Jimmy your best friend and belly flops on all the candy. His name was Jacob.
I believe God actually gave that hunger to Jacob (the Bible one, not the mean kid). Jacob’s problem was he was working out of his effort and not relying on God. Jacob took matters into his own hands and that never works out well, even when you mean well. When Jacob decides it is time to head home with all his wealth and family and fame and stuff…he is terrified. All his trickery has caught up to him and he is certain his older brother Esau is going to kill him. Esau actually has a right to put a serious hurt on Jacob since Jacob stole Esau’s blessing. The day before the great “reunion” Jacob spends the night alone on the shore of a stream and the strangest thing happens. He wrestles with God. God was in the form of a man and they literally wrestled in the dirt. (The word wrestle in Hebrew means to make a dust cloud) At one point Jacob is doing pretty good and God dislocates Jacob’s hip.
Now imagine a self-sufficient guy like Jacob. His whole life he has managed quite well for himself. He could “outrun” anybody for the candy. It actually started before he was born. His name also means “heel-grabbler” because he came out as a twin hanging onto his brother’s heel. This made him second in line but he was already trying to beat his brother out of the womb. That is pretty hungry. So God takes away Jacob’s ability to run. Jacob is now crippled. This is the best part. Jacob refused to let God go. He demanded a blessing from God.
Gen 32:26 Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me. 27 [The Man] asked him, What is your name? And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]! 28 And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed. (AMP)
Jacob persisted and God blessed. Jacob came to the end of his games. He had no more game. He was crippled and in that society he would be an outcast. But instead God changes His name. In his culture a name was more that something your mom used to call you to dinner. It was who you were. God called him Israel. It is such a beautiful name. It means “contender with God and God reigns on Earth as a prince.” Not only was Jacob now a prince, but a prince of God’s Kingdom, the namesake of His chosen people. I think that is so amazing. This is how Hosea tell’s the story:
Hos 12:3 In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God 4 He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. (ESV)
Do you have that kind of hunger? Are you willing to give up all the games to have more of God? I think there comes a time or many times in our lives when we get so hungry we have to wrestle with God for our blessing. Of course we are blessed abundantly in His Grace, but still God plants a burning desire in our hearts that He wants us to pursue with abandon. He can’t wait for us to call Him to the dirt bank and grapple a bit. We might walk away limping in our self-nature but soaring in Him. He gave all of himself. I get to give up all of me to have Him. I like that. If there is a hunger game for me I pray it is in the ring with Him.