Posted on July 5, 2015
Blessed : When you realize your emptiness can only be filled by Jesus (A series on the Beatitudes)
Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry? I have, and I always wind up buying things I don’t need, but somehow think will satisfy my growling stomach. Cookies, chips, candy. When I’m hungry at the grocery store, why don’t I grab a bag of baby carrots and start munching as I shop? Because after all, that would be sensible and reasonable and healthy. No, I grab a bag of chips or crackers and as soon as I get in the car, I start in on them. (I can’t very well have fellow shoppers see me munching on unhealthy snacks while I’m shopping, can I?)
There are a lot of things we can hunger for. Tangible things like a bigger house, a newer car, clothes in the latest fashion. Am I ever satisfied? When will the house I have, the car I have, the clothes I wear be enough? When do I linger, satisfied in the simplicity of what is now without longing for what will be?
There are also less tangible things that we long for, things like love, acceptance, belonging. We look for those things to be satisfied through other people. Often we feel disappointed because what they give doesn’t seem to quench the thirst. We find that we’re still empty, even though others are giving the best of what they have to offer.
The thing about those things we long for is this: they will never satisfy. My belly full of crackers will eventually become empty again. There will always be a bigger house, a nicer car, another pair of shoes or jeans. There will always be another person who could love us more, or treat us differently. We are never satisfied. So, no matter what we hunger for, strive for, earn the right to have, we will still come up empty in the end.
Jesus said, “You’re blessed when you hunger and thirst for righteousness. If you do, you’ll be satisfied.” What he was saying, is that there is only one thing you should hunger and thirst after, and when you find it you will be satisfied. Righteousness. It’s the divine approval of the only One who can truly satisfy. He didn’t say go out and sacrifice for it and then you’ll finally feel deserving of my approval. He said simply to “hunger and thirst” for it.
St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” I have to accept that my state of longing and thirsting for everything else but God will always leave me unsatisfied. The more I achieve, and the more I acquire, the more I feel entitled to have more. It’s never, ever enough.
How do we hunger and thirst for righteousness? First, we acknowledge our emptiness and our need for what only God can satisfy. We start by understanding that responding to a need with a substitute for God’s love and approval will only intensify our longing and hungering. Then we simply ask ourselves what our heart is most longing for. Is that new outfit something I need or something that I think will gain the approval of others? Am looking for the approval of others by how I dress, what I own or how I interact?
Sometimes when I go to the grocery store, and especially when I’m NOT so hungry, I thoughtfully look at everything I’m tempted to buy and ask if I need it. Often I will find that there are things I put back on the shelf instead of into my basket. When I look in my closet and think, “I don’t have a thing to wear” (those who know my closet are laughing at me right now!), I need to stop and ask myself whose approval I’m seeking. It’s not that we can’t buy and enjoy things. We just need to understand that there is Someone greater who can satisfy our hunger for more. He is here to fill the void with His Presence and peace.
“Blessed are you when you realize your emptiness can only be filled by hungering and thirsting for more of Jesus. You’ll find that you are eternally satisfied.”
What are you hungering for today? Is there something that you’re looking to things or other people to fill that only Jesus can fill?