Have you ever been hungry? If you're reading this blog from the comfort of your home or place of work, I'm guessing the answer is probably not. Not really. Sure you've missed a meal now and then, had a few smaller portions than your stomach was hoping for---and you 'suffered' for it the rest of the night, or until you got home and found a snack. But your cupboard, my cupboard, they've never really been empty. Not famine empty, not day after day until your stomach is distended, eyes dulled, can't get up off your mat, empty. Not hungry like that. None of us. We have no idea.
I"ll tell you a story of who I think we westerners are (OK, so it's a generalization, but it's convicting, even for me): I stood at Costco the other day and watched cart after cart filled with those giant bags with rice fly out of there. "What the heck?" I asked my son, who works there. "There's a four bag limit," he said. "But the rice shortage is making people panic."
I thought, 'you have got to be kidding me.' Now my family eats a lot of rice; for the average family, we really do. But we only go through one of those overgrown restaurant-sized bags about once a year. You can't tell me all these people really need all this rice. No way, no how. But that's how we are, we Americans. We think we need our food. We need it. But across the world are those who would give their lives--literally--for a single cup of rice to share with their children. The thing is, my cupboards are full, too. I want to make that clear. I could eat for months on what's in my cupboards--you should see them...no, on second thought, I'd rather you didn't.
But famine is part of life in Africa. To spend life scratching for food in an inhospitable land where droughts come and crops fail and still sing.
To spend life in dust and hunger and still dance and share with guests.
To spend life bearing children into this world and crying as they die from starvation and lack of medicine and yet still--OF COURSE!!-- long for them.
To spend life in hope of better crops, more rain, a little food, a healthy child.
To dream what I dream, the very same dreams. Life, food, children, HOPE.
Jesus looked at the people and saw that they were hungry. And He fed them. He took what had been rounded up--a few fish, a couple of loaves--and He fed them first. He saw the look in their eyes that was only about food, and He looked back, straight into that hunger first. Do we look at that hunger first? Or do we get so busy thinking about how to share 'the gospel' that we don't actually share His gospel, if you know what I mean. Meeting hunger--real human hunger--is Kingdom work, gospel work. Do I do it?
But here's the spiritual connection: We can also live in spiritual famine--starvation mode in the Kingdom. And I'm thinking of that this morning as well. And though we might have full cupboards materially, I think it's easy for us to be starving for Jesus. In fact, many of us are only fed once a week. Only when we walk through the doors of church. People die only eating once a week. But we eat at His table Sunday mornings and call it good. And we're starving to death. And the really sad thing is, He's holding out food for us every single day of the week--every minute, if we simply reach out and take it. It's right there.