When was the last time you felt hunger? Most likely, the answer to the question is at some point in the last eight hours! Perhaps you awoke hungry today desiring breakfast.
The first question, however, begs another; what do you do when you feel hunger? Most likely, the answer is you eat as soon as possible. Yet, what happens when you feel hunger for unhealthy choices? For example, what do you do when hunger arises, yet the only craving acknowledged is for junk food?
We know the definition of hunger; hunger is that gnawing ache on the inside, which sends the signal that we need food. In the same vein, we know what action to take when hunger is felt; we seek food, and we eat when we are hungry. Further, there is an aspect of hunger that is most assuredly a common human uniqueness; hunger is an active state that results in the repetitious cycle of hunger, eating, satisfaction, followed by the unending return to hunger. Hunger comes to us, yet it always comes again. Hunger is demanding upon our human way of life, and it is not a human experience that can ever be lastingly satisfied.
Likewise, a discussion upon this topic must never fail to recognize the critical role that cravings play within human hunger; cravings are physiological drivers within the hunger process. In other words, cravings steer human hunger to a specific yearning. Therefore, it can be recognized that humans go beyond feeling hunger; humans crave specific foods when hungry.
With this being established, there is an aspect that refuses to be avoided; cravings are conditioned by action and habit. Consequently, we crave what we have conditioned our bodies to enjoy.
According to a 2020 article from the Cleveland Clinic, food euphoria is affirmed to be one of the top drivers of cravings, “Unfortunately, our bodies are hard-wired to crave junk food. When you eat foods you enjoy, you stimulate the feel-good centers in your brain, triggering you to eat even more” (Cleveland Clinic, 2020, para. 8). This article serves to underpin the concept that along with stress and lack of sleep, habit is a primary conditioner to cravings.
Overall, we must embrace the reality that what we eat contributes to what we crave. Furthermore, if we condition our bodies to crave junk food, our cravings become tainted to desire junk food. In as much, tainted cravings lead to unhealthy desire in food choice; healthy food will be less desired when cravings have been tainted by junk food. When we eat junk, we will desire junk.
While we are fully able to grasp the understanding of human hunger, craving, and all of the correlating facets of the common experience, the Bible paints the portrait in a symbolic fashion of hunger representing a passion and desire for greater intimacy with God. Connected to the human experience of physical hunger and craving, is the symbolic metaphor of spiritual hunger and pursuit for increased relational growth with God within scripture.
Hunger, in the Bible, is symbolic for desire of God as well as growth in the Word. For instance, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus refers to Himself in symbolism as food for the spirit and as the true fulfillment of the spiritual desire. The prophet Isaiah makes the symbolic application as well, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). Once again, the metaphor of physical food and drink is related in symbolism to spiritual fulfillment and satisfaction.
Hunger in the Bible is synonymous for spiritual desire; however, cravings in a spiritual sense reflect what we have conditioned our spirit to desire. Just as what we eat in the physical often determines our human cravings, our spiritual cravings often reflect our spiritual habits. Junk food taints our craving for healthy food. Eating healthy food, on the other hand, can correct the cravings. Therefore, in a spiritual sense if our lives are tainted with carnal living, our spiritual cravings will show equal reflection.
Many desire to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and to become closer to God in word or theory, yet often the practical lives and actions taint the spiritual cravings. When we eat healthy spiritual food such as worship, the Word, prayer, and dedication we crave less carnal living. Rephrased in simple application, carnal living taints our craving for intimacy with God. Yet, the Bible points us in a healthy direction in terms of changing our cravings! The psalmist said, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusts in him” (Psalms 34:8). The psalmist declares in the common application of eating food and engaging the taste buds, eat of the things, because doing so will create craving the things of God.
The prophet Jerimiah divulges the heart of God in intimacy, “Seek and you shall find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jerimiah 29:13). Herein is the lesson; pursuing God will lead to craving more of God and craving more of God will lead to finding more of God. In other words, God promises that we will find him when we crave him.
Going farther, we find the standout call of Jesus concerning hunger and craving for more of God in the gospel of Matthew as Jesus offers a promise, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6). God calls us to recondition our tainted cravings, and direct them toward healthy living in the spirit.
If we find ourselves in a place where we have little hunger for intimacy with God, the most common diagnosis is centered upon our cravings; if we change what we spiritually eat we will experience change in what we spiritually desire. A change in spiritual habit will lead to a change in spiritual hunger. A correction in spiritual consumption will lead to a change in spiritual craving.
Grounded upon the promise of Jesus in Matthew 5:6 as well as the call of the prophet in Jeremiah 29:13, redirecting spiritual cravings in order to enhance spiritual hunger for more intimacy with God involves the following three simplistic keys:
- Realize our state. If we are craving junk food more than healthy food, we must realize the problem if we are going to redirect the cravings. In the same manner, we must recognize a lack of spiritual hunger as a primary problem. Craving carnal living more than hunger for God must be a red flag of concern for the Christian. If there is little craving for God in the life of the believer, there is big consumption of carnal living. This must be realized and admitted if there is going to be a change in hunger.
- Realize the offer. Jesus offers greater intimacy with him and spiritual satisfaction to anyone who makes the choice to desire him. This concept is a stated spiritual fact! Rest assured that this principle fails to be a faddish commercial promising to alter your physical cravings with the pop of a pill; this is the promise of the living God to fill and satisfy the one who will change the spiritual craving. The choice is up to us, yet the offered extended is stable and sure.
- Realize the responsibility. Lastly, nowhere in Matthew 5:6 or Jerimiah 29:13 is our responsibility to spiritually eat healthy erased. We must change in order to see change. Hunger for God is the longing to encounter him on a greater level, to know him on a more intimate level, and to grow in his Word on a more profound level. This hunger, however, comes when we take the responsibility to change what we spiritually consume.
How can we change our spiritual cravings? Here are six crucial yet simple steps can that make extraordinary differences: Spend more time in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Matthew 6:6), worship more frequently (John 4:23), fast more regularly (Matthew 6:16), repent of sin (1 John 1:9), read/study the Word more often (2 Timothy 2:15), and engage other like-minded believers more consistently (Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 27:17).
Pastor Toney, along with his wife Monica, serves as the pastor of The Refuge Church in New Martinsville, WV. Prior to this assignment, he led in a revitalization for twelve years of a church in Wayne, WV.
Pastor Toney is passionate about leading the church into revival and into an encounter in the presence of God. He believes that a presence driven church will experience the glory of God, and he strives to lead as a committed pastor of the people.
Pastor Toney is an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN.). In addition, he holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lee University, and he recently completed a Master’s degree from Lee University as well.
For more information about his church and ministry go to: http://www.therefugenm.com
You can connect with Pastor Toney on Facebook or Instagram under his name, or contact him through email: Tcox0004@leeu.edu