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Hungering and Thirsting for God: Hunger for God
by Mike Cope
Part 4 Instead of craving a vibrant relationship with the God who made us, we settle for a house, a family, a few friends, a job, a TV and DVD, and a yearly vacation. We think we can survive with this and just a bit of religion. Yet our souls starve! People who are trying to fill their hunger for love, acceptance, and security in relationships, material possessions, or even success will never find real or lasting satisfaction. Their hunger is not a mere physical or emotional hunger. It is a holy hunger — a hunger from God and for God. Some may not know they long for him because they don’t know him. Some don’t seek him because they don’t know where or how to look. Others are looking for God, but they aren’t sure what he “looks like.” For a couple of years in the early 1990s, the New York Times Bestseller List included picture books starring a funny little man named Waldo. In Where’s Waldo? and its sequels the object is to find the little guy amidst all the other people and objects. Sometimes he blends into the background, while at other times he “hides” in the foreground. Waldo is easily recognizable because he has specific physical characteristics that never change. However, clutter and things around him often obscure and confuse the reader’s vision. Though a reader may sometimes give up, assuming there was a trick page that omits Waldo just to drive you crazy, he’s there every time. That’s Scripture’s testimony about God — he is there every time. Sometimes God is so present you can’t miss him — like when he brought fire down on the altar at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. But at other times he seems hidden — as when he was present in the whisper in 1 Kings 19. Even when he’s silent, however, he is not absent. It is a holy Let’s return to Scripture and hear God’s testimony about himself. The Bible is a thrilling story of a God who cannot possibly be fully understood but who nevertheless invites us to share his life. Since our minds are so limited in understanding this Eternal One, God has offered metaphors and descriptions that permit us to catch a glimpse of his Being.
hunger — a hunger from God and for God.
I have tasted thy goodness. security. he enjoyed the shows that had come through. and life.26 O God. — A. I long to be filled with longing. but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.The Ultimate Battle What if we really believed that our greatest challenge is to respond to the God who has continually sought us? How would it change how we deal with all the other challenges we face? Imagine what would happen if parents were less concerned about keeping their kids off drugs and more concerned with entering their children’s battles to know God. 1982). so he’d never gone in where the performance was. O God. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. — Larry Crabb. The results. Tozer. 151. Inc. 1997). during his nineteen years there.Psalm 73:25. 2|Page . would likely include fewer kids on drugs. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. What would it be like if pastors worried less about whether their people were having affairs and more about whether they worshiped? Picture a relationship between friends that dealt less with their financial and romantic problems and more with whether they were experiencing God. W. Perhaps for some people the source of their relational problems comes not from investing too little in the relationships but from trying to place an unfair burden on them — trying to make them offer happiness. I suspect. Don’t Wait Outside A doorman at a Broadway theater was asked if. How long have you been just outside the door that God has opened for you? How long have you tried to quench your thirst with brackish water or satisfy your hunger with worthless junk food? All we have to do is open the door and let God strengthen us: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you My flesh and my heart may fail. and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. His answer was startling: he hadn’t been interested. fewer affairs.. the Triune God. we are then free to love them unconditionally. The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill. PA: Christian Publications. I thirst to be made more thirsty still. . Ironically. Connecting: A Radical New Vision (Nashville: Word. I want to want Thee. when we free ourselves from depending on others for true life. and fewer nervous breakdowns and failed marriages. peace.
click here for Part 2. but less time. steep profits. While we may have learned a lot more about digital information. Used by permission. but less wellness. broken relationships. Evidence of that is seen in all the loneliness. always call him good. We’ve learned how to make a living. hear his voice. These are the days of two incomes. click here for Part 3). more medicine. We have multiplied our possessions. not life to years. but have less. we’ve cleaned up the air. but more divorce. substance abuse. and acts of violence that surround us. have we grown in our knowledge of the Creator of the world? Despite all the junk food that is available to fill our hunger. 2001 Part 1 The core battle in everyone’s life is to relate well to God. emptiness. more conveniences. but broken homes. and hope in him when he seems to disappear. but polluted the soul. and pray too seldom. Title: "Hungering and Thirsting for God: Longing for God" Author: Mike Cope Publication Date: April 21. but not a life. We have bigger houses and smaller families. have we improved our ability to love.This is Part 4 of a series. © 2001. of fancier houses. experience his presence. but enjoy it less. These are the times of tall men. enjoy him. trust him in everything. Mike Cope. It’s obvious that something is still missing. and short character. it’s obvious that something is still missing. and nurture? While we are gaining understanding about our world. we’ve added years to life. these aren’t so much the problems as they are some symptoms of a larger problem. Maggie Ross has pinpointed the deeper issue: 3|Page . shattered dreams. (click here for Part 1. we buy more. and shallow relationships. watch TV too much. Excerpted from One Holy Hunger. —Larry Crabb The paradox of our time in history is that we spend more. forgive. but reduced our values. 2001. to worship him. We read too little. HillCrest Publishing. obey every command (even the hard ones). Yet in a deeper sense.
120. thousands of starving families left their homes and once-productive farms to seek shelter and food at distant refugee centers. Their digestive systems had shut down and would no longer process the very thing their bodies needed. In that sense an idol could be a stone figure or a spouse. and the only possible food is prayer. Many died because their bodies no longer recognized or accepted life-sustaining nourishment. Their bodies didn’t recognize what they were hungering for. We begin to realize that this hunger will never be satisfied. with sex. They were so malnourished that when they tried to eat. Foreign nations and humanitarian agencies sent and distributed food to these starving people. During the famine in Somalia.] In Scripture there is a word to describe any attempt to find true life in anyone or anything other than God: idolatry. we’ll examine our hunger and look at others who found their hunger filled by God. Winning the lotto can’t. Hope is realizing He is all we need. Joy is realizing He is all we want. It is the hunger for the Face of God. Part 2 In Scripture there is a word to describe any attempt to find true life in anyone or anything other than God: idolatry. We can find our hunger satiated in God. Some.. waited too long before seeking help. with power. As Larry Crabb has discovered: “ Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.39. Getting married can’t. SanFrancisco. We try to fill it with food. not in this life. In that sense an idol could be a stone figure or a spouse. The Safest Place on Earth (Nashville: Word. One reason we may not recognize our hunger for God is because most of us don’t know what hunger really is. Developing friendships can’t. 1999). 1992). The First of Your Life: A Solitude Shared (San Francisco: Harper. Unraveling your past with a therapist can’t.] Here’s the stark truth: only God can fill our deepest hunger. Saying funny things at parties can’t.. Adding 20% to your income can’t. [Maggie Ross. however. To help us do just that. But we can resist the idols. a graven image or a growing retirement fund. a graven image or a growing retirement fund. 4|Page . Many received help in time to save their lives. their bodies rejected food. ” [Larry Crabb.We try to fill up that ghastly hole in the pit of our stomachs that is really in our souls.
my soul thirsts for you. (Augustine) Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. mind. in a dry and weary land where there is no water.The psalmist had a deep hunger. and strength is with God. from bars to Bible classes. for the living God. so my soul longs for you. and God alone. soul. soul. (Psalm 42:1. and strength is with God. Only God can bring fulfillment to our lives — because he made us to live in harmony with him. 0 God. My soul yearns for you in the night. mind. Notice these testimonies from people who invested in God and hungered for him: You have made us for yourself. Tozer) O God. The place to invest our heart.W. (Isaiah 26:8b. Unfortunately. The place to invest our heart. They try to fill their void with a parent. That is investing way too much in any human being. spouse. or child. soul. There is no person that can make you or me feel satisfied. (Psalm 63:1) 5|Page . my body longs for you. 9) Made as we were in the image of God. but unlike most people. God was our original habitat and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode. 2a NRSV) You can hear the grumbling caused by hunger pains all around. Scripture never tells us to love another person with all our heart. in the morning my spirit longs for you. Each time they are disappointed because there are no perfect human relationships. earnestly I seek you. (A. you are my God. people — both those outside the church and many inside —have failed to recognize in those hunger pains a deep longing for God. we scarcely find it strange to take again our God as our all. mind. They endlessly look for that certain someone who can make them happy and complete. My soul thirsts for God. which it is. and strength. Many people identify their hunger as the need for a relationship. and our souls are restless until they rest in you. and God alone. he understood the true source of his hunger and expressed it clearly: As a deer longs for flowing streams. But they look for the perfect relationship with another person.
And. Yet he loves us so much. and no amount of money or success can ultimately satisfy us. So he relentlessly pursues us as a shepherd for his sheep. What happened on the fifth day of Creation? Who were Moses’ parents? Who was the 6|Page . For the Lord is a God of justice. Until we understand that and respond to his love. He delights when we accept his eager desire for a relationship with us. he rises to show you compassion. Part 3 Until we understand that and respond to his love.. As a Someone who pursues a relationship — with us! For those of us with a Christian heritage this seems so obvious. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18) God is a self-sufficient God and needs nothing. And our search will end in disappointment until we search for God. Barrier One: Our Confusion One problem is our tendency to confuse knowledge about God with knowing God. no possession. as a groom for his bride.Each of these testimonies cuts through the noise of culture to hear the one clear voice of God — a God who created us. we are like the prodigal son. searching again for the security of our home. including us. His heart rejoices when we accept and draw near to him. or as an idea. searching again for the security of our home. And our search will end in disappointment until we search for God. sent his Son for us. But there are a couple of problems we face as Christians: barriers that can easily sidetrack us in our response to God. as a father for his child. no job. and he wants us to benefit from his abundant blessings. We easily fall into the trap of believing that information is the key to eternal life. Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. and longs for us intensely. So we turn to “data-based Christianity” to fill us with knowledge about God.. so overwhelmingly. or as the necessary conclusion of our “proofs. and no amount of money or success can ultimately satisfy us... to be complete. No human relationship. barriers that keep us from realizing we are all God-hungry and that only he can fill us. no possession. as a mother for her baby. no job.” But God as a living Being. we are like the prodigal son. Our hunger is for God. We then open the pages of Scripture to memorize events that can later be regurgitated as if Christian living were similar to a sophomore history class. Not God as a doctrine. No human relationship. he carefully made each of us with an inner desire — a hunger — to know him.
reveal to us a God who longs for relationships. a young man who spent all his time collecting Elvis memorabilia: clothes. It pleads with us to long for him as well.second judge? What objects were in the Ark of the Covenant? How many chapters are in the Book of Psalms? We can buzz through the Old Testament without ever pausing to ask. but fail to enjoy an intimate relationship with God. reading Scripture. and a yearly vacation. we can become proficient in biblical information without becoming closer to God or more sensitive to the people he created. We are offered a fabulous vacation by the ocean and settle instead for wading in a ditch. we settle for a house. in a fit of rage. “What is this text trying to accomplish?” As a result. programs. The goal of Scripture isn’t minds filled with Scripture was facts about God but hearts using those facts to be full of his presence. records. a job. We think we can survive with this and just a bit of religion. photographs. and teaching Sunday school classes. But his great regret was that he never got to meet the man he adored. Biblical illiteracy isn’t a virtue! But biblical knowledge shouldn’t be the goal of our reading. When he neared the door to the 7|Page . But they don’t hunger and thirst to know God personally. to be changed into his likeness. Later a guard was walking down the hall where the boy was being held and heard him whimpering. tells of a twelve-year-old who. a few friends. He even underwent plastic surgery to try to look more like his hero. killed his father. No wonder religion often becomes empty! Barrier Two: Our Satisfaction A second problem we face is that we’re too easily satisfied. a TV and DVD. Scripture was written to reveal to us a God who longs for relationships. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m all in favor of learning the information of Scripture. to be filled with his presence. author and theologian. written to I remember reading about Dennis Wise. They could pass any theological exam or answer any Bible trivia question. a family. Yet our souls starve! Frederick Buechner. Instead of craving a vibrant relationship with the God who made us. We’re like the toddler who could wait and have a wonderful meal at 6:00 but who finds an old hot dog from lunch on the floor at 5:40 and gobbles it down. A similar but much greater tragedy with many Christians is that they spend years listening to sermons.
org/blog/2008/Jan/15/longings-of-the-heart As for our heart’s deepest longings. my flesh yearns for Thee. But we keep going back to it. “I want my father.” (Psalm 34:8) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. They feast on the abundance of your house: you give drink from your river of delights. and what alone will satisfy my deepest longings: “As the deer pants for the water brooks.” (Psalm 63:1) “How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. But the things we accumulate in life can’t satisfy us and can’t give us purpose.epm. as the Scripture said. http://www. O God. O God. ‘If anyone is thirsty. in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” http://www. We’ll focus on our Father satiating that hunger next time in part 4. and there is also a hunger and thirst of the soul. For with you is the fountain of life.epm. Scripture often describes our longing for God as a deep hunger or thirst. none of which give us the lasting pleasure we long for. as if it can. I want my father. Whoever believes in me.” (Psalm 42:1-2) “My soul thirsts for Thee. Passages like these remind me of what I really crave. he heard him crying.org/blog/2008/Jan/28/hunger-thirst-and-craving-god-longingpart-2 Blog before last I started a series on longing. We set our sights on the objects of a thousand different desires. in your light we see light. so my soul pants for thee.” (Psalm 36:7-9) “O taste and see that the Lord is good. Augustine put it this way: “You have made us for yourself.youngster’s room. for the living God. Only God can fill our deepest hunger. I’ll pick up here where that left off. and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in You. let him come to me and drink. This fallen world.’” (John 7:37) 8|Page . streams of living water will flow from him.” (Matthew 5:6) “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice. can never satisfy our fallen selves. Hunger and thirst are basic drives in our bodies. with its fallen people.” That is the sobbing that can be heard all around us — even though people may not know what or whom they are crying for.
longing for your commands. that truth which is an extension of Himself.“I am the Alpha and the Omega. so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. if we develop the holy habit of daily meditating on Scripture. let him come. all that changed. Adam and Eve regularly saw God and it was their delight.” (Revelation 22:17) We long for God’s Word.” This is what we were made for: to fellowship with God. 131) "We are to develop a taste for God’s Word. to enjoy His company and the warmth of his love. “We have seen God!” (Judges 13:22) 9|Page . such a shell of what people once were. After you’ve spent enough time there. Though it follows after the first sin. you’ve forgotten what you’re missing—or perhaps you’ve never known.’ [God] said. the Beginning and the End.” “I open my mouth and pant. and shows us life as it really is. “How sweet are thy words to my taste! Yes. for it is as desirable and essential for our growth as milk is for a baby’s growth: “Like newborn babies. dive into it. let him take the free gift of the water of life. which is the product of the beauty of His being. ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty. for no one may see me and live. realize our need for it. The world. ‘you cannot see my face. to worship Him wholeheartedly in the midst of the beauty of His creation. sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. crave pure spiritual milk.’” (Exodus 33:20) “We are doomed to die!” Manoah said to his wife. now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2). and whoever wishes. Consider subsequent passages about seeing God: “‘But. with its sin and shallowness. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost form the spring of the water of life. But after the fall. but there is an eternal sweetness to God’s Word. you’ll find that television and radio talk shows and popular culture will ring hollow to you. leaves a sour taste in our mouths. If you’re not craving God’s Word. we will deeply appreciate it. Genesis 3:8 describes a situation which I think was a regular part of God’s relationship with Adam and Eve before their fall: “The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” (Revelation 21:6) “The Spirit and the bride say. and miss it acutely whenever we’re away from it too long. If that’s the case. not as it is constantly misperceived. Like eating good food and exercising regularly.” (Psalm 119:20. This is why sin has left us so hollow. that clarifies and explains.
” (Revelation 22:4) We sinners who would have been consumed by the burning holiness of God will be transformed into righteous people with the moral character of Christ. Job longed for the day when he would see God: “I know that my Redeemer lives. nor He from us. How can you say. I myself will see him with my own eyes—I and not another. but God the One and Only. show us the Father and that will be enough for us. even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. 10 | P a g e . so that we can see God face to face. And Him alone that could ever satisfy us.” (Matthew 5:8) In fact. who is at the Father’s side. and a solid confidence that one day he would experience what ancient theologians called the beatific vision. When we see Him with our resurrected eyes. gazing upon Him with sheer delight. They will see his face. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27) Jesus likewise described seeing God as something wonderful. it was really Him we were searching for. Yet Job cried out with an ancient hope.” Jesus answered: “Don't you know me. it was Jesus himself who made God visible to us: “No one has ever seen God. the happy-making sight. 'Show us the Father'?” All of this is a build up to the promise of God of what we will experience after the resurrection. and his servants will serve him. Philip.This is one side of the picture—a fear of unholy people seeing the absolutely holy God.” (John 1:18) Consider the dialogue between Philip and Jesus in John 14:8-9: Philip said. Never again will we withdraw from Him. as we live upon the New Earth: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. “Lord. as we went down every dead end street pursuing what we thought we wanted. and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. declaring “Blessed [happy] are the pure in heart. for they will see God. knowing it would kill them. yet in my flesh I will see God. we will realize that all our lives. longing for. And after my skin has been destroyed. has made him known.
not lukewarm or cold.http://www. Amen. but because You love us deeply and long for us to come and be with You.htm LONGING FOR GOD’S PRESENCE PRAYER: Dear Father. I praise You for Your love for each of us Lord. If my friend has become lukewarm. I pray for a renewed joy and fervor for You and I pray that he or she will begin to desire Your holy fire to burn deep within his or her soul again if there be a coldness of heart. for we were created for Your glory (Isa. We may have become busy with the tasks of life and haven’t spent enough time in your Presence. We will find You if we seek You with all our hearts.timeoutforgod. 4:29) In the Precious Name of Jesus. (Deut. We repent for not spending enough time in Your Presence Father and in Your Word which will ignite the flame every day. Father. You desire for us to spend time with You not because You are a hard taskmaster. I believe You want Your people to examine themselves (2 Cor. Go forward in FAITH my brothers and sisters! 11 | P a g e .com/articles/Longing_for_Gods_Presence. I pray for a renewed excitement because You desire that for us Father and You desire for us to have life and not death because it says that in Your Word. 43:7). where there is coldness of heart. 13:5) to make certain that the embers are alive and burning bright. I pray for every reader of this message today and I praise You for their lives. Father.