Spiritual Eating Disorders

Have you ever hidden in the pantry, stuffing your face with potato chips until the bag is empty, when you only meant to have a few?

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I have. Chances are you’ve had your own experience with some version of that scenario. You and I know how it feels.

  • The fall from good intentions.
  • The pull of compulsive behavior.
  • The sense of being trapped.
  • The shame that fails to stop us.
  • The fact that we’ve done it again.
  • The frantic cover-up.
  • The self-punishing.
  • The new resolutions.

So it is with the hungers of our heart. They too can drive us toward eating disorders.

Embarrassed by Our Hunger

We often act out of the hungers of our heart before we even realize we have them. Take loneliness, for example.

I may find myself feeling restless. Empty. Sad. I start trolling social media, looking for something to feed on. But the more I click, the worse I feel. Everyone else seems to be having a good time out there. Not only are they busy with trips, celebrations, kids’ activities, but lots of people “like” what they’re doing.

I, on the other hand, lack anything “FaceBook worthy” to post. Anyway, who would “like” it? I sink deeper into my pity party for one.

What’s wrong with me?

My hunger for friends feels embarrassing, like I’m the only one with this problem. That’s when I’m tempted to go into the closet. Publicly I deny the hunger. “I’m fine,” I assert to anyone who asks. But privately I indulge. I binge watch favorite TV shows or cherish resentment against those “supposed friends” who don’t really love me. I may try to update myself into a new and improved version. Or I may simply keep myself busy to avoid the pain.

The Divine Vending Machine

Sooner or later I may go to God for help. But my view of God will determine how I approach him.

  • Does he know about my struggles?
  • Does he care?
  • Is he good? Or is he holding back on me?

If the lie of the serpent has lodged in my heart (Genesis 3:6, accusing God of stinginess), I may approach God as if he’s some kind of divine vending machine. I know what I want to get from him, and I know it’s in there somewhere. Now what do I have to do to get him to give it to me?

So I catch up on my Bible reading. I decide to pray. And fast. I might make some resolutions to do or not do things I know are right or wrong. All the while I’m waiting for my quarter to drop and my hunger to be satisfied.

I secretly suspect the machine is broken or the price has gone up.

The Divine Host

But God doesn’t sit there like an impersonal vending machine. He comes to us as the Divine Host. Not only is he aware of our hungers–all of them–he designed those very hungers to bring us to his table. And so he says that most beautiful four letter word:

Come.

And he means it for all of us who are hiding in the closet.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” Isaiah 55:1

This is the free offer of the gospel to the hungry. This is the full offer of salvation–not just of forgiveness–but of saving our hunger and satisfying it forever. This is the generous offer of his grace because that’s who he is, the generous gracious One.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

So bring your hunger to him. Don’t hide it. Don’t try to deny it or indulge it or fix it or even figure it out. Just come hungry.

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