HOW TO GET HUNGRY FOR GOD
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6 (NASB)
I have always been intrigued by this phrase "the pursuit of Happiness." Indeed, our entire culture seems to be taken with the idea that the pursuit of happiness is and should be the main goal of every person. And we go at it with abandon. But do we every really attain it?
Most people I have known, who have given their lives to a pursuit of happiness, have never really attained what they would call true happiness. Perhaps it all hinges on how we define the word. Or perhaps the things we thought would make us happy are not the things which make people happy.
Are you satisfied with your life, your marriage, your work, your relationships with others, your relationship with God?
What have you been doing to improve your level of satisfaction? Is there anything you can do that will make a difference?
Along with this problem of a pervasive lack of happiness in our culture, I see another insidious problem that may in fact be a causative agent in our lack of happiness. Franky Schaeffer identified this problem in his book Addicted to Mediocrity. One the problems we face is that we have been willing to settle for less. We have lost our passion. In so many areas, there is no longer a powerful desire for excellence. This has been a problem, at least in our country, for many years.
We also see this problem in the church. All too often we have been willing to settle for less in our spiritual lives than what God desires for us. Perhaps it is because we live without persecution in a country where we enjoy religious freedom. That very freedom often causes people to take for granted things which should be held as very precious. It can cause people to take lightly their Christian commitment. It fosters a casual Christianity, one in which we serve only at our convenience.
Perhaps we need to consider that our search for happiness or satisfaction has been misguided. It could be that we have been seeking the wrong object. The reason why the things we have sought have not made us happy is because they cannot make us happy. Things do not satisfy, only God satisfies. It has been said that within every human being is a "God shaped blank" and we are never satisfied until we are filled with God.
Jesus said it this way: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
Perhaps the reason we are not satisfied is because we have lost our passion for God.
When Jesus uses the words hunger and thirst, He is speaking of real hunger and thirst. Most of us have a very hard time identifying with what Jesus intended to communicate. We have never really experienced true hunger or true thirst. Jesus was speaking of starvation and the intense hunger which it brings. Generally, when we say that we are hungry, we mean that it has been several hours since we last ate. But this is not hunger. The kind of hunger of which Jesus spoke could not be satisfied by a mid-morning snack. The kind of thirst of which He spoke could not be quenched by a brief trip to the water cooler. He was speaking of people who are in desperate and dire circumstances, like those who are suffering from famine.
There have been famines throughout history. In 436 BC, Rome experienced a famine so severe that thousands threw themselves into the Tiber River. They desired to drown rather than starve to death. Severe famine struck England in 1005 AD. Great famines covered Europe in 879, 1016, and 1162. We have seen famines spread throughout the third world countries where tens of millions have died of starvation.
We have never experienced starvation. I would suppose, however, that a starving person has only one desire. That person is possessed by a single, all-consuming passion. Only food and water has the slightest attraction or appeal to that person. Nothing else is important. Nothing else has even the slightest appeal.
Could it be that what Jesus is saying is that until we come to the place where we have such a single-mindedness in our passion for God that we will never experience true satisfaction? As a matter of fact, that is precisely what I think He is saying!
Only God satisfies. So, we need to come to the place where we are hungry for God. We must desire Him so passionately that our desire causes us to do something about it. Nothing less than that passion will cause us to act properly. When Prodigal Son was hungry he turned to the husks that he was feeding the pigs. When he was starving he turned to his father.
What brings us to this place of passionate hunger for God? Many things can. A true realization of our own sinful condition can cause us to desire release through the power of God. When we are suffering, we may look to God for help. If tragic events overtake us, God may be the One to whom we turn. Whatever the means God uses, He desires to bring us to the place where we come to the end of ourselves. This is where we must be in order to discover a real hunger for God.
Coming to the end of ourselves brings us to a place of desperation. And in our desperation, after we have exhausted all other possibilities, we turn to God as the only hope for our lives.
Are you there? Have you come to the place where you are ready to allow God to have His way in your life? Many things can hinder you. A mistaken idea of your own self-sufficiency can hinder you. Many people wrongly believe that they need nothing else outside of themselves to be happy. You may believe this until the time when you are sitting all alone, face to face with who you are, feeling inadequate and powerless. Don't trust in your own self-sufficiency. It will always let you down.
Some are not hungry of heart because they are hard of heart. Allowing sin to control their lives, they develop a hard shell around their hearts which is impenetrable. A hard heart will certainly keep you from God.
While it is so tragic to see people who do not know God turning their backs on Him, I am utterly amazed to see people who have tasted His goodness do so. Those of us who are Christians and who have experienced the goodness of God through His forgiveness of our sins ought to be people whose lives have been marked by passion for God. Yet many are not. How can this be?
Moses knew the Lord. We read in Exodus 33:11, "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." But Moses wanted to know more of God. He says in Exodus 33:13, "Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee . . ." Moses had a hunger for God, for His righteousness, and to know His ways. He cried out, "that I may know Thee." This sounds very much like the apostle Paul. He cried out in Philippians 3:10, "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Both Paul and Moses desired to really know God. They already knew Him in a very deep sense. But what they meant was that they wanted to know Him more intimately, personally, and powerfully. They had a hunger for God. They had a passion for Him.
Moses was so intent on remaining in God's favor and presence that he said to God in Exodus 33:15, "If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here." Moses knew the source of his strength.
Listen to David in Psalm 63: "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, To see Thy power and Thy glory. Because Thy loving kindness is better than life, My lips will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name. Psalm 63:1- 6
To Get Hungry for God:
If you want to truly be satisfied, you must desire God. You must:
1. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind
Deuteronomy 6:5 "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
2. Seek God with all your heart
Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
3. Hunger and Thirst - for you shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
May God give us a passion for Him. May he cause our hearts to be hungry and thirsty for His righteousness. May He create within us such a spiritual desire for Him that we will not be satisfied with less, but will seek Him with all our heart, soul and mind.