I ate a lot of chicken soup in 2020. In fact, due to some whacky health complications, it’s the only meal I ate all year.
As you might imagine, a lot my recent prayers have gone something like this:
God, I’m so hungry for other foods. Surely, if You would just heal my body my hunger would be satisfied!
But the answer keeps coming back the same over and over again:
“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger.” 1
Admittedly, this is never the response I’m going for. The way I see it, my hunger could be instantly and permanently abated if only my circumstances would align.
But then I realize that I’ve been here before. In fact, it seems that at nearly every stage of my life thus far, there’s always been that one thing I’m longing for that I’m sure would finally satisfy my hunger, if my situation were just a bit different: maybe it’s a spot on the team, a relationship, graduation, my own place, a better career, a resolved conflict, or just improved health. I’ve offered this prayer over and over again: God, if only things were different.
To be clear, God has on numerous occasions hastily and mightily answered my prayers, both in times of need and in times of want. But on other occasions, my prayers seem to be left unheard, and I find myself waiting and waiting, growing hungrier all the time, asking, “God, I’m coming to You with this situation, so why do I still hunger?”
When I was a child, I did not always appreciate my mother’s excellent cooking. I would often arrive at the dinner table, evaluate the spread, and then declare that I was hungry for ice cream instead.
Of course, no matter how much I groaned and whined, my mom would never give in. She knew what my body was really hungering for, and she loved me enough that she would rather let that hunger grow until I finally accepted the nourishing meal she had prepared, rather than pacify me with some sweet treat that would leave me hungry all over again before bed.
Like a good parent, God understands exactly what my soul is hungry for. It isn’t a new kitchen or a bigger paycheck. It’s not even good health. Rather, “for this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2).
My soul is hungry for heaven. It longs to return to God, to dwell with Him in eternity. But as it turns out, there’s no heaven on earth (sorry, Belinda Carlisle). So even though some earthly circumstances might taste sweet for a moment, if I’m counting on them to satisfy my soul, to provide joy and peace in my life, it won’t be long before I’m hungry all over again.
Thankfully, just as God provided manna to satisfy the Israelites until they reached the Promised Land, God offers daily bread today to fill our souls until we reach Heaven. Jesus is the bread.
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna… that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Sometimes the Lord, in His infinite love and wisdom, lets me suffer hunger for a bit to remind me what my soul is really hungry for. Then, when I finally seek the Bread of Life like I seek the food I eat, when I make it a priority to consume and digest the word of God daily2, I find that the Lord has a feast prepared every time, expertly assembled to satisfy the needs of my soul, regardless of my circumstance. So even if I have to eat the same chicken soup every day, I can truly say, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him” (Lamentations 3:24).
Whether life is sweet or bitter, whether I abound or am abased, so long as I expect some earthly circumstance to satisfy my soul, I will always be hungry. But when I seek fulfillment in Christ, “he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).
Perhaps it’s time my prayers sounded less like “God, give me heaven on earth” and more like “God, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…
“And give us this day our daily bread.” 3
References: 1. John 6:35; 2. Exodus 16:21; 3. Matthew 6:10-11
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.