By Jon Bloom (at http://www.desiringgod.org)
Hope is to our soul what energy is to our body. Just like our bodies must have energy to keep going, our souls must have hope to keep going.
When our body needs energy, we eat food. But when our soul needs hope, what do we feed it? PROMISES.
Why do we feed our soul promises? Because promises have to do with our future, and hope is something we only feel about the future — about ten minutes from now, or ten months, or ten thousand years.
We’re never hopeful about the past. We can be grateful for the past. The past can inspire or even guarantee a hopeful future for us. But all the wonderful things that have happened to us in the past will not fuel our hope if our future looks bleak.
However, if our future is promising, our soul will be hopeful even if our present is miserable, because hope is what keeps the soul going.
So, we “eat” promises, which our soul digests (believes) and converts to hope.
Toxic Soul Food
When feeding the body, there is “healthy food” and there is “junk food.” Both will, in the short run, produce energy. But healthy food provides the right kinds of energy, enhances the operation of the body’s complex systems, strengthens its resilience against disease, and increases its durability and longevity. Junk food, on the other hand, has essentially the opposite effect in all these areas, and contributes to the breaking down of the body over time.
Similarly, there are “healthy promises” and “junk promises.” Both will, in the short run, produce hope. But healthy promises provide the right kind of hope and promote health throughout the complexities of the human soul. Junk promises prove ultimately toxic and lead to soul-death.
Both physical and spiritual nutrition are important, because we always become what we eat. We must take greater care, though, in what we feed our souls, because so much more is at stake.
The world and the devil are very aware that we feed our souls promises, which is why, like junk food, junk promises are everywhere. They are heavily marketed (notice every temptation to sin is a promise of some kind of happiness), attractively packaged, tasty (though not truly rich), convenient, and have a particular allure when you’re running low on hope. They deliver a fast buzz of false hope and ruin your appetite for truly healthy promises.
But junk promises always disappoint because their buzz is followed by a hope-plunge into guilt, shame, and emptiness. They never deliver the happiness they promise because our souls are designed for a far better hope. And yet, junk promises can be addicting, because our hope-plunge can send us back seeking another fast, false buzz.
“Man does not live by bread alone, but . . . by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Matthew 4:4). Our souls are designed to be nourished by God’s “precious and very great promises” (II Peter 1:4).
But these promises are not mere human words; they are living and active (Hebrews 4:12), proceeding directly from the living Word, Jesus Christ (John 1:1). He is the Word of God and “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (II Corinthians 1:20).
What could possibly give more hope to our sinful souls than Jesus’s promises to forgive all of our sins completely, to remove all of the Father’s judgment and wrath against us, to always be with us (Matthew 28:20), and to give us eternal life in God’s presence with full joy and pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11)? Only in him do we find “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
This is why Jesus called himself the bread of life (John 6:35). The past grace of his death and resurrection guarantee a never-ending stream of hope-giving future grace for us extending into eternity. To ‘eat’ these promises is to eat this living bread and live forever (John 6:51).
And Jesus has made the Bible the storehouse of nourishing, living soul food for his people. It is stocked full of promises, and he invites us to come eat our fill for free (Isaiah 55:1). (continued…)
Matthew 4:4 — Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (see also Deuteronomy 8:3)
II Peter 1:4 — Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
John 6:35…51a — Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Isaiah 55:1 — Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Heavenly Father: thank you for sending your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Bread of Life for the world. Forgive us for elevating earthly appetites above devotion to you. Feed us with the knowledge of Christ so that we recognise our sin and gladly repent in his name. Amen.