Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
The word “righteousness” as it is used here refers primarily to a relationship with God. So, when Jesus pronounces blessing on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, he is speaking of those who hunger and thirst for a relationship with God. Jesus was saying, “You will be blessed when you hunger and thirst for a relationship with God. You will be blessed by being filled with the One for whom you hunger.”
When we allow ourselves to experience our hunger for God, we will be filled.
It may not seem like a difficult thing to know that we are hungry for a relationship with God. But it turns out that it is. It turns out that many of us are unaware of our spiritual hunger. Many of us are spiritually anorexic. Physical anorexia is the inability to respond appropriately to the natural hunger our bodies experience for food. Some people can become so anorexic in relationship to food that they do not experience their stomach’s growling as hunger, nor do they associate the headache and fatigue they feel when they have gone a long time without food as hunger. Food has, for them, become something dangerous and hunger is seen as frightening. So natural, healthy hunger is denied, even to the point, for some, of death by starvation.
In much the same way we can deny our spiritual hunger. We can experience the natural sensations of our longing for a relationship with God but deny this longing because it feels too frightening. We may be afraid because we don’t know where this longing will lead, or we have been fed nothing but spiritual toxins in the past and as a result we fear that there is nothing available that will truly fill our souls. Out of fear of one kind or another we can deny and distract ourselves from our hunger for God, and as a result find that we are starving spiritually.
Simone Weil wrote about this problem in her book Waiting for God. “The danger,” she writes “is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.”
Jesus spoke of the importance of allowing ourselves to experience our spiritual hunger. It may seem like a vulnerable and risky thing to let ourselves feel our deep hunger for God. But unless we know that we are spiritually hungry, we will not seek nourishment.
Jesus’ words of blessing and promise tell us that it is worth the risk. When we allow ourselves to hunger for a relationship with God, we will be fed. There is Bread. God waits to feed us, to fill us.
Prayer is taking the risk to hunger for God. Prayer is allowing ourselves to be filled.
I am afraid to feel my hunger for you
because I don’t know if I can ever be filled.
Give me the courage and the hope I need
to experience my hunger for you.
Strengthen me to seek the Bread you offer.
Sit quietly. Take a few deep breaths.
Ask God to show you how you might be avoiding or denying your hunger for God.
Ask God to allow you to experience your spiritual hunger.
Hear Jesus’ words of blessing, “Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for God, for you will be filled.”
As you sit quietly, open your hands and wait in silence. Allow God to fill you.