Friday, 18 May 2012
Hungry Chapter 1: Hunger
“What am I hungry for?” That was last week’s question, and it’s a great starting point.
“What am I hungry for“ leads us to the first level of understanding both our physical and spiritual hunger. Awareness. It’s helpful to become aware:
- that we are hungry
- that we are hungry for certain things
Awareness is what sends us on a quest for food, for answers. But let’s hit the pause button before we start to hunt and gather. There’s a second question we need to ask.
The second question isn’t the pragmatic one, “How do I satisfy my hunger?” If we ask that question right away, we might think satisfaction is all up to us. We might reach for a quick fix and move on. At the very least we will end up managing our hunger, instead of satisfying it.
Had you heard of “impostor syndrome” before reading chapter 1 of Hungry? When have you felt like an impostor? Stop and remember. How did you try to fix it? Ponder your knee jerk attempt to deal with that uncomfortable feeling.
Our attempts to satisfy our hunger fall short in various ways. They might work for a while, or in certain ways, or on a good day, but in the end they fail to satisfy us.
That’s why the second question we need to ask isn’t “How do I satisfy my hunger?” but Why am I hungry in the first place?
The answer to that question is the whole story of our hunger.
The Whole Story of Our Hunger
Often, our initial reaction when we become aware of our hunger is to identify it as bad. Whether we have a taste for Snickers bars or for the approval of others, we see hunger primarily as a character flaw. We might call it an addiction, a craving, an idolatry, or just plain sin. We shake our heads and confess, “Yes, my hunger for _________ is a problem.”
The believer who is well taught about the problem of sin knows the answer–I need a Savior. So we take our newly identified bad hunger and ask Jesus to forgive us. We might feel forgiven or we might struggle to believe we are forgiven, but that is the end of the matter.
The “whole story of our hunger” ends up being confession and forgiveness. Sin and redemption. We cycle through that 2-part story like a revolving door. It starts to feel like a feedback loop in our lives.
That’s because our story of hunger isn’t big enough. Sin and redemption are an important part, but they’re not the whole story. And that’s a good thing.
Sin is not the first word about our hunger. And it won’t be the last.
The Whole Story of Everything
To have the whole story of any topic, we must have 4 parts, not just 2. That’s because the whole story of our lives is nestled in God’s 4-part story. So pick a topic, any topic, and ask:
- Part 1. Creation–Why did God create this thing in the first place?
- Part 2. Sin–How has this good thing been lost or broken by sin?
- Part 3. Redemption–How has it been reclaimed and made new by Christ?
- Part 4. New Creation–How will it be even better as part of the completed New Creation?
Let’s apply the 4-part story to our hunger. For instance, Part 1 directly addresses our question, “Why am I hungry?” The account of Creation in Genesis 1 and 2 shows us two main answers.
- Our hunger identifies us as creatures, distinct from the Creator. In this aspect we are similar to the other creatures.
- Our hunger tests us as image bearers, potentially leading us to God or away from him. In this aspect we are distinct from the other creatures.
When we see God’s dual purpose in creating us hungry, it changes how we think about our appetite. We can recognize how dependent we are and see that as a good thing. We then become aware and grateful for the ordinary ways God has provided for our needs.
We can also recognize that hunger tests us, showing us what we love most. This can lead us to pray, not just that we won’t sin, but that God will use our hunger to lead us to him instead of away from him.
Stuck In The Middle
Creation shows us God’s good purpose for our hunger. The New Creation gives us hope for where our story will finally end. But in between those two bookends, there is a lot of drama. How do we keep from getting stuck in the middle, in the revolving door of our sin and Christ’s forgiveness?
Though Parts 2 and 3, sin and redemption, do dominate the Bible and our lives, they are not some kind of endless daytime drama written by hacks, they are an epic tale of disaster and rescue that drives toward a final conclusion. The Hero, barely introduced in Genesis 3, is seen only through shadows and whispers until the night that the sky is split by star and the angels. The Rescued Ones also remain incognito, suffering and struggling until the day they are revealed with Christ in glory.
The drama will drive us into a deeper knowledge of ourselves and of our God. Our hunger, daily redeemed by Christ, can become our best tool.
“One way to know God and ourselves is to follow the breadcrumb trail of our hunger through the pages of the Bible.” (Hungry, p. 29).
Does your hunger lead you to God or away from him? Think of an example of each. And if you want to share, I’d love to hear it.