“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED.” – JESUS (MATTHEW 5:6)
DESPERATION PRECEDES AND PRODUCES A CHANGED LIFE.
Change. Everyone I’ve ever known, including myself, has something about their life that they’d like to change: to be more like Christ, to be a better wife or husband, father or mother, employer or employee, pastor or church member, etc. The list can go on and on to include many other aspects and arenas of our lives. But real change doesn’t happen by merely wanting or wishing it. Real change happens when the temperature of our lives reaches a certain boiling point. This boiling point is the place of desperation. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” When the appetite for change becomes so strong that we are willing to pursue what we desire then we are positioned for real change. Hunger and thirst speak of passion and desperation, not just interest or passive acquiescence.
Because there are far too many obstacles that we must overcome in order to experience change, the commitment we must resolutely possess must be our driving motivation. The foundation in our lives for transformation is our determination and commitment to it.
Many have set sail on the seas of change only to then face storms and obstacles that they were unprepared to overcome. When our hunger exceeds the sacrifice, the suffering, and the status quo that we must combat to change, then the journey is successful. Without the passion for change, we will likely never experience it.
Jesus talked about one of the great enemies of change in Luke 6:25: “Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.” He spoke of the absence of hunger. i.e., when we are filled with other things rather than His kingdom and His righteousness. When we fill our lives with any other inferior and unsatisfactory thing, we miss our on what He could give to satisfy us. We can so easily fill our hearts with spiritual “junk food” that has no benefit to our lives. Part of our ongoing obligation as believers is to regularly empty our hearts of these un-nourishing meal replacements.
Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Jesus said the world is continually engulfed in seeking (hungering) after material things. He warned against having our priorities out of line. Our heart should seek (hunger and thirst) after God’s Kingdom of righteousness, nor after worldly, materialistic things. God’s Kingdom, righteousness, and will should be the most important things in our life for all of our life. When we seek God’s righteousness, we are pursuing the truth and life of God to become a part of who we are, how we think, believe, and act.
Many times opposition and adversity become measuring instruments of the level and degree of our desperation and determination for change. When the Syrian general Naaman was seeking wholeness from an incurable and debilitating disease, his determination for wholeness was severely tested. As the prophet Elisha gave him the instructions for his miracle, he became disappointed, offended, and enraged.
Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:9-14)
Naaman had to overcome pride. Elisha sent his servant to give the word, and this appeared to be impolite and dishonoring to the very important Naaman. He wasn’t used to being treated like that. Naaman had to overcome his preconceived expectations of what would happen that day. He had envisioned a much different scenario than the one with which he was confronted. He was being tested. Was his wholeness more important to him than his pride, expectations and disappointment? The level of his desperation was being tried by the conditions for healing. Like Naaman, you and I will face hurdles and stumbling blocks in the pathway to our wholeness and destiny. Like Naaman, we call overcome these barriers and receive God’s promise for our lives.
Our culture expects and even demands convenience and comfort. But true spiritual hunger is often inconvenient and uncomfortable. Many times the difference in those who excel in spiritual and natural endeavors is that the depth and quality of their commitment far exceeds what others possess. It is here where the ultimate victory and achievement are won or lost. Without a passionate burning desire to see and experience what God has promised, we are unlikely to arrive there. The “hungry” experience what the “full” never do. Our task then, must be, to achieve and maintain this place of spiritual hunger and desperation.
Many times people develop passivity towards God’s will and promise. Their attitude is “if God wants to do it, He will.” But their attitude becomes a hindrance to the realization of desire of God. The apostle Paul wrote that we are to ‘’desire spiritual gifts.” (1 Cor. 14:1) The Greek word for “desire” is zebo, which means “to be zealous, to have a burning desire, to ardently pursue.” The reason why so many Christians lack the presence and manifestation of spiritual gifts is that they haven’t yet reached the boiling point of passionate desire. I’ve heard many Christians, including ministers, say, “If God wants me to speak in tongues, then I will.” That’s not exactly how it works. God wants us to speak in tongues because His word promises us that gift. It then becomes our choice whether or not to desire it for our life. Many do without God’s promised gifts, graces, and blessings because they’ve not cultivated a deep desire and hunger for them.
Revival is not solely orchestrated by the sovereign hand of God. It is the behavior of people who become desperately hungry for the promise of God in their lives. Spiritual hunger has always and will always precede revival. Concerning God’s will, Word, and Kingdom, if you can live without it, you probably will.
In I Samuel 1, the Bible gives us the narrative of a woman who experienced miraculous change because of a passionate hunger. Her name was Hannah. She was the much loved wife of a man named Elkanah. Although she lived in relative prosperity and the true devotion of her husband, something was missing. She couldn’t have children. Her husband told her that it wasn’t important and that she should be content with his love for her. But he didn’t know that she had a burning desire to have children. Ultimately, God answered her desperation by opening her womb and giving her a son who became a great man of God.
Interestingly enough, all three of the patriarchs’ wives endured a prolonged season of barrenness before giving birth to children. Before the season of barrenness was overcome by the season of fruitfulness, they all reached the boiling point of hunger and desperation. Look at Isaac as he intercedes for a child: Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebecca his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:21) Isaac’s prayer was urgent, passionate, and desperate. God not only responded to the words he prayed, but to the emotion and passion he prayed with.
Rachel was the greatly beloved wife of the patriarch Jacob. For many years she had to painfully endure the fruitfulness of her rival, Leah. But Rachel was moving close to the fulfillment of her destiny. Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” (Genesis 30:1) Her appetite and desire has now grown into an obsessive desperation. Her only mistake was to look to her husband instead of her God. But she would soon re channel this desperation to the right source. When she did God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. (Genesis 30:22)
When we go through seasons of barrenness like those before us, we too can experience a breakthrough. Spiritual hunger and desire are of the greatest value to mankind. The God-given reward “they shall be tilled” awaits all who become hungry and thirsty for the righteousness of God that change our lives. Desperation precedes and produces a transformed life.
Prayer for Desperation
Father God, I confess to You today how much I need You in my life. Forgive me for apathy and indifference. I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness and I ask You to help me have a greater hunger and thirst. Lord, help me to become desperate for change in my life everywhere You desire it. I empty my heart of all that has kept me from true spiritual hunger and passion. I’m desperate for Your Word, will, and Kingdom to transform my life. Thank You, my loving God. In Jesus name, Amen.