When a recent illness caused me to lose my appetite, it set me thinking about the nature of hunger and the purpose it serves. When one is sick and can't eat, the body grows weaker and weaker. The longer one goes without nourishment, the more one needs it, but the less energy one has to seek and possess it. The healthy body feels hunger, and while hunger is not thought of as a pleasant sensation, it is altogether necessary for our well-being.
There is a vast difference between having no appetite and having one's hunger satisfied. On the surface, the two may appear identical in that they are characterized by a lack of hunger pangs. Yet the satisfaction of hunger leads to nourishment, while the lack of hunger leads to starvation.
The Scriptures recognize this difference; they never praise the lack of hunger, but rather the satisfaction of it. The psalmist writes that God "satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" (Psalm 107:9). It is not the satiated who find the Promised Land, but those whose hunger drives them to God:
"He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield." (Psalm 107:35-37)
This recognition of the good place of hunger is, I believe, a crucial difference between Christianity and Buddhism. Buddhists seek to eradicate desire so that they cannot feel pain; nirvana is a state emancipated from all desire. Christ taught us to seek the satisfaction of our desire in God, saying, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6). And just as a lack of hunger could eventually lead to starvation, the extermination of desire leads to spiritual starvation.
I was recently talking to a friend who, because everything in her life was going well, had experienced a slackening of her spiritual appetite. She didn't hunger for God like she had in times less prosperous and found herself feeding on his word less and less. I'm glad that she recognized that this could only begin a vicious cycle, whereby her spirit would grow weaker and weaker unless she disciplined herself to keep feeding it. Just as when we don't feel like eating, we must continue to eat, when we don't feel our need for God, we must continue to seek him.
When my appetite returned and I sat before a nourishing meal, I found myself thanking God not just for the food that He had provided, but for the hunger that drove me to seek it. Likewise, we should bless the desires of our hearts when they make us feel our need of God. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Him, for they will be filled.
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*519 BC: Foundations laid for Second Temple in Jerusalem
The Jewish Temple on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, originally built during the reign of King Solomon, stood from 950 to 587 BC, when the Babylonians, who exiled the Jews to Babylon, destroyed it. After their return from Babylon, the Jews were determined to build a new temple. Supported by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, they laid the foundations for the Second Temple on December 13, 519 BC (24 Kislev, 3241 in the Jewish calendar). Completed four years later, the Second Temple stood more than a half millennium, until the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD. The Temple will be rebuilt in the near future but be desecrated by a prominent world leader according to Mat. 24. Shortly thereafter, the rightful King of the Jews will rule for a millennium. The Bible tell about His first visit to provide a way for salvation & forgiveness while the second visit will be to judge & to rule with absolute authority.