It’s nearly lunch time as I write this and I’m feeling hungry. I’m sure you know that feeling too. Sadly, it must be a familiar feeling for many people in this world where extreme poverty and famine are so common. We’ll all agree that hunger isn’t a comfortable feeling, and it motivates us to action to satisfy our hunger. The purpose of hunger is obvious. We regularly need to be motivated to eat, to sustain our body’s healthy function. If we don’t, or can’t, respond to find the necessary nourishment, we’ll get sick, and eventually die.
When Jesus talks about being the bread of life He’s obviously expecting us to know when we’re spiritually hungry; to know when we need to receive spiritual food. But do we recognise when we’re spiritually hungry? Could we even be spiritually starving, but unaware of it? If we can’t recognise spiritual hunger, we’ll never be motivated to find the necessary ‘bread’, and this could surely end in dire consequences.
Recently I woke up one morning with a phrase in my mind. There didn’t seem any obvious reason why, so I assumed God had put it into my mind. Many of you will recognise this phrase as it’s often used in a communion service. It’s ‘Feed on Him in your hearts, by faith, with thanksgiving’.
That’s when I started to consider if God was suggesting I might be more spiritually hungry than I’d recognised. I certainly have no problem recognising physical hunger, but could I be missing the indications of a need to find spiritual bread?
I pondered the phrase during the day, and it seemed to me that perhaps ‘with thanksgiving’ might give a clue to such an indicator. When Jesus wanted the people to receive physical bread He took the little He had in His hands (two loaves and five fish), and gave thanks to the Father. The result was that everyone could receive sufficient. It implies to me that thanksgiving isn’t just a result of receiving, but that it, in some way, facilitates that ability to receive.
Jesus saw their hunger, and thanked God on their behalf, when they may themselves have felt that there was little to thank God for. Is it possible that a lack of gratitude might be both a blockage to receiving, and an indicator of the need to receive, i.e. of spiritual hunger? Is my ability to feel grateful to God, or others, an indicator of whether I’m spiritually well-fed or not?
Those who regularly seek to be fed by Jesus are undoubtedly grateful people, and this gratitude also makes them desire to know and receive more of Him. The opposite may well be true. A lack of a grateful heart could both indicate a need for urgent feeding and yet also cause a blockage to receiving that essential spiritual food. If this is the case, then recognising when we’ve become ungrateful, and learning how to turn from this to count our blessings i.e. to look to Jesus ‘with thanksgiving’, might be an important step to being able to receive the necessary feeding from the ‘Bread of Life’. How grateful do you feel today?
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You’re the Bread of Life. Please help me recognise if my heart is hard, and I’ve ceased to be grateful to You for all You’ve done for me. I repent of this attitude, and recognise that it shows I’m spiritually hungry. I ask You to help me to focus on the way You’ve blessed me, and help me to choose to turn to You with gratitude, enabling me to feed on You in my heart, with, and through, thanksgiving. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.