It’s 3:46 in the afternoon and the salad you had at that early lunch meeting didn’t cut it.
Realizing it’s at least two hours until dinner you sneak over to the office lounge praying someone brought in cupcakes for their birthday. Nothing. Frantically, you search through the office fridge looking for anything without a name on it that can satisfy your mid-afternoon hunger pains.
Physical hunger is God’s way of telling us we need to recharge. Without food we can’t survive. But the desire to fill our stomach isn’t the only hunger we face.
We have many appetites in this life. Many of them center around material possessions and the accumulation of wealth. Unfortunately, in some situations, we do the unthinkable in order to get what we want.
What if you could have anything you wanted without consequence? That would be a dream situation, right? It would be your very own genie-in-a-bottle scenario without the three wish restriction.
How would you handle that chance? Would you ask for more money, fame, or power? What hunger would you choose to satisfy?
I’d like to think I would have the fortitude to resist pursuing something that might cause me harm. Having never been in that situation though I just don’t know. I’m thankful though that Jesus – who was put in that situation once – chose the right path. His example is one we all can follow.
How Jesus Fought His Hunger
Matthew 4 tells us that one day shortly after his baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. The sole purpose of his journey was to face tests set up for him by Satan. Jesus was there for 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting.
After that long time without food, guess what Jesus was feeling? Hunger.
This wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill, 3:46-in-the-afternoon hunger. This was hunger at it’s deepest level. Hunger that made the body weak to physical exhaustion. Hunger that could cause the sharpness of the mind to lapse. We have to remember that even though Jesus was God (see John 10:30), he was also completely a man (see I Timothy 2:5). So he was experiencing all the physical characteristics that 40 days of fasting would produce.
Hoping to take advantage of Jesus’ weakness, Satan arrives on the scene. Wouldn’t you know it, the first temptation that comes from his lips speaks directly to Jesus’ – and humanity’s – most basic desire…personal survival. Satan says to Jesus in Matthew 4:3,
“…If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
At first glance it doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it’s just bread. Jesus hadn’t eaten for 40 days. Why shouldn’t he use his godly power to help himself out? It's a great question that has three very specific answers:
- It would have meant defeat at the hands of his enemy.
- It would have been selfishly taking care of his own needs first.
- It would have fulfilled his own needs outside the will of his Father.
Had Jesus given in to what his physical body wanted, he would have failed in his purpose for coming into this world. Instead, Jesus answered this way,
“…It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
This simple, amazing statement shows us what Jesus valued. Clearly he placed great importance on the Word of God. In his moment of physical weakness, He quoted an Old Testament passage to give him spiritual strength.
It also speaks to his trust in God the Father as the great provider. Even though hungry, Jesus did not worry about how he would obtain food. He knew and trusted that God would meet his needs.
And those needs would be met in God’s perfect timing. Jesus could have succumbed to the quick fix to satisfy his hunger. Instead he endured two more temptations until his trial was completed. Then and only then did God send angels to minister to him (Matthew 4:11).
Fighting Our Hungers
You and I have hungers in this life we would like to satisfy. And just like Jesus, ours often boils down to a spiritual battle.
We face the same enemy Jesus faced on that day in the wilderness. Satan also wants us to become focused on what we desire rather than the truths of God’s Word. He would tempt us to handle everything ourselves rather than trust in God to meet our needs. He would encourage us to take shortcuts to get what we want rather than wait for God’s timing to unfold.
In all these things, his desire would be to push us away from total surrender to God’s will for our lives.
Not everything we want is bad for us or contrary to God’s desire. He is a loving Father who desires the best for us. But just like Jesus, we need to trust in God to provide in his perfect timing. We must resist going outside the bounds of God’s instructions in the Bible to make our wants happen. No hunger is worth that compromise.
Question: How do you fight off the “I-want-it-now” syndrome?