2301) Hungry

imelaa (@imelaa03) | Twitter


     A recurring theme in the Peanuts comic strip was Snoopy’s frustration and hunger when Charlie Brown would forget to feed him.  I remember one that went something like this.  Charlie Brown is talking to Snoopy.  Charlie’s hands are raised in frustration.  He says, “You are lucky to be a dog, Snoopy.  You don’t have so many things to worry about like I do.  The whole world is in a mess– wars, storms, crime, not to mention all my own personal troubles.  I have so much on my mind.  And, you?  You are a dog, so you don’t have to worry about anything.”  Charlie then walks away, his head so full or worries that he has forgotten to put food in Snoopy’s dish.  The last frame shows Snoopy, looking worried, thinking to himself, “I’m hungry.  I hope he remembers to feed me.”

     Snoopy has the biggest worry of all.  One of our most basic needs, human or dog, is to eat, and after a day or two of no food, hunger will begin to make us forget all other concerns.  Charlie Brown was feeling on his shoulders the burden of all the troubles in the world, and as we know, he also had a lot of personal problems.  But if no one fed Charlie for a few days, all other worries would be forgotten, because like Snoopy, he would be thinking and worrying about nothing but food.

      When I traveled with a missionary to Haiti several years ago, I met people who were often hungry.  For them, happiness in life was a simple matter– if they got something to eat on any given day, that was a happy day; and if they didn’t, that was a tough day, but, maybe the next day would be better.  They lived by that simple hope.  No one I met was actually starving to death.  They could usually scrounge up enough to live.  But times of no food at all for a day, or even two or three days, were quite common for many.

     However, the missionary I was with said that suicide and depression were rare among the poor in Haiti.  Happiness for them was such a simple matter, not nearly so complicated as it is for people who have so much of everything.  When you have something to eat, then you can begin to worry about finding shelter, getting yourself more comfortable, finding something fun and entertaining to do on the ‘weekends, buying a better TV set, remodeling the house, and so on.  But if the grocery stores shelves were all of a sudden emptied, and you would not be able to find any food anywhere, all those other concerns would be quickly forgotten.  Hunger will make you forget almost everything else, and then, even the simplest meal can make you very happy indeed.

     With that in mind, you can hardly blame the people in John chapter six for coming to Jesus looking for food.  Early in the chapter they had followed Jesus into the wilderness, and there, they let the time get away on them, and they were hungry.  It was a long walk back home, food would be on their minds all the while, and their children would be crying.  These country people were not wealthy, so they, like the people in Haiti, probably knew what it was to miss a few meals and feel the hunger.  They knew very well how unpleasant it was going to be.

     Then, just like that, came an unexpected surprise.  In verse eleven Jesus miraculously fed them all, and everyone had plenty to eat.  Where did it come from?  No one could even guess how someone got a hold of that much food in that remote place, but all were happy to have it.  They ate until they couldn’t anymore, and even then, there were twelve big baskets of leftovers.  It is not surprising that the people came back for more the next day.

     But Jesus rebuked them, and although his criticism is gentle enough, he did make it clear that he has come for more important things than to hand out free lunches.  In John 6:26 Jesus said to the crowd, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”  When they asked him what it is they should be looking for, he offered them the bread of life, that is, eternal life, which could be had by believing in Him.

     Jesus knew what it was to be hungry.  Remember the 40 days in the wilderness that he was without food and was then tempted by the devil?  The devil’s very first temptation was to offer a way to get free food.  Jesus refused to give in to the temptation, and he stayed hungry.  Jesus knew what it was to feel that most basic need.  Yet, he knew there was something even more important.  When he was hungry, Jesus said to the tempter, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

     One can have plenty to eat and still be unhappy.  On the average, well fed Americans are less happy than the poor, but cheerful, happy, and hopeful Haitians.  One can have plenty to eat for one’s whole life, and can even be happy for all of life; but even then, life still comes to an end for the rich as well as for the poor.

     Jesus said to the people that day, “I am the Bread of Life…Very truly I tell you, whoever believes (in me) has eternal life” (John 6:35…47).

     So Jesus said to the crowd, “Do not work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which I will give you” (John 6:27).  Jesus did not mean that we need not work at all for the food that spoils.  Our daily work is most of all for the purpose of providing us with that ‘daily bread’ that Jesus himself invited us to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.  What Jesus means is that we must not make the food that spoils or anything that perishes our most important concern.  That daily bread, as important as it is, will satisfy us only for a day; but the bread of life will satisfy us for all eternity.


We thank Thee for our daily bread,
Let also, Lord, our souls be fed.
O Bread of life, from day to day,
Sustain us on our homeward way.  Amen.