I have been a Christian, or more aptly described as “one who has been on journey becoming Christian,” for over two decades. Even after all of that time, I have a confession to make: Jesus does not fully satisfy my hungry heart. There are moments or even days when my heart still aches. There are times when my soul feels thirsty for something more.
Let me share with you three reasons why Jesus does not fully satisfy our hungry and thirsty hearts.
1. OSEP is Built into the Fabric of Reality
This first one is slightly philosophical, so bear with me. One of the reasons why Jesus does not fully satisfy is because life is not static—life is fluid and full of spatial and energetic potentiality. I refer to our current reality in this multiverse as the Ontology of Spatial and Energetic Potentiality (OSEP). The OSEP are the holes/gaps/spaces located within/throughout the fabric of all of reality, and energy swirling within the spacetime continuum, that allows for potential events to occur.
The OSEP opens up the possibility of phenomena such as growth, decay, movement, and creaturely experiences of choice, joy, despair, connection and disconnection. The OSEP assures that nothing remains the same and everything is fluid. A world created without OSEP would be a nonexistent one or the very least, a world that would lack life. It would be a one-dimensional world full of static impassable forms without growth, movement or fluidity.
Jesus does not fully satisfy because, to put it bluntly, he can’t. Our souls are incapable of being filled. We are not cups, which once filled, is cemented, never to be filled again. If we desire to be fully and forever content and satisfied, we are asking to be creatures who live in a different reality—an altogether horrific one. A human heart that is fully satisfied is a mummified heart, stuck in time, forever looping in one memory, where potential for future creative events and experiences cease.
It is our inability to embrace the OSEP, which creates suffering. To believe the irrational thought, “I must always feel content, never hungering and never thirsty” creates a false expectation and will always set us up for failure. Embracing a false reality will increase the tendency to shame and avoid what are natural God-given experiences. The OSEP is not bad news, it is actually good news. Subjective feelings of hunger, thirsting, lack, and emptiness are invitations into life itself.
2. Hunger is an Invitation into Deeper and Creative Connection with God
How could we enjoy a delicious sundae with Oreo Cookies and Cream ice cream if we were completely full and stuffed? We couldn’t. How could we experience the enjoyment and utter satisfaction of drinking an ice-cold iced-tea during a warm sunny day if we had no thirst? We couldn’t. Hungering and thirsting are gifts that lead to greater gifts. Without them our overall experience of life would be mundane and we would be robbed of some of life’s greatest pleasures.
Jesus does not fully satisfy our spiritual hunger because to do so would rob us of the joy of seeking and momentarily experiencing him in fresh ways throughout our life adventure. Some gifts are not hidden from us but for us. Jesus wisely said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6). Being hungry and thirsty are not cursed states of being that should be thought of negatively. They are blessings in disguise. They are subjective experiences which are travel guides that lead us into intimacy adventures with God if we patiently listen to their voices.
Phrases like, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 9:17; 13:9, Ephesians 5:18), “filled with joy” (Acts 13:52) “filled with awe” (Acts 2:43), only occur because of the exciting possibilities that occur because of the OSEP, and are inextricably linked to the gifts of lack, hunger, discontentment, and longing.
Listen to your hunger. There are times when a deep inner hunger is a gift and compass that is pointing you to take action and seek God in creative ways. Perhaps it is telling you to shut off all technology, sit with God in silence, and PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens). Perhaps the inner hunger is nudging you to take a walk through the forest while listening to God’s still voice whisper intimate revelations to your hungering heart.
God encounters, as beautiful, intimate, and fulfilling as they can be, cannot be held on to. While those beautiful and alivening states can be memorial stones to go back to and visit in times of spiritual drought, they will dissipate. You will hunger again. You will thirst again. This is why praying daily, “God, give us this day our daily bread” makes sense. One meal might taste good and satisfy your hunger for a moment but there is no question you will get hungry again. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you or that there is something wrong with you. It means you are a human being who lives in the reality of the OSEP.
Sometimes, even though we take a risk and dare enter into in a deep and creative connection with a loving God, the nagging hunger still lingers. There are some holes even which God can’t fill.
3. Jesus is Not All That We Need—We Are Wired for Human Connection
Long ago, I remember being in a wonderful church service. We were singing a Vineyard song and came to the lyrics, “All I need, You are all I need, I have found it true, Life comes only from You.” I found myself needing to stop midchorus. Surprised at what was happening, I began to tear up. I realized I could no longer sing the lyrics with authenticity. I began to feel overwhelmed with heavy guilt and shame. I bowed my head and uttered something to myself I never expected to say: “God is not all I need.”
Let me share a quick and odd thought experiment. What would happen if a bunch of people came together in a church service; sat in their pews; kept loving and adoring God; sang worship songs for a month straight; and did nothing else? Let me tell you what I think would happen. Without water, food, and taking care of bare necessities, they would slowly waste away, die of hunger, thirst, or from some other horrid outcomes.
Do we need God? Absolutely! Of course, we do. Yet, God is not all that we need. Do we need water? Do we need food? Do we need air? You’d better believe we do. We have God-designed holes, along with their unique aches and hungers, that God alone cannot fill. One such God-designed ache is for human connection.
Remember Genesis? Even though God created Adam, and they had a relationship that was not marred or ruptured by sin, God still looked upon him and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). Even Adam, in unencumbered relational bliss with his maker, needed connection with another flesh-bone-and-blood human being.
I am no longer ashamed to say “God is not all I need.” I need friendships. I need my wife. I need a community to belong to. As a wise spiritual teacher once said, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ (1 Cor. 12:21). We need each other. We need connection. And that is okay.
Do you feel hungry? Do you feel thirsty? If you do, please know there is nothing wrong with you. What you are experiencing is normal. In actuality, you are blessed. The fact that Jesus doesn’t fully fill and satisfy you is good news. It can liberate you from attempting to achieve an illusory state of completeness or full satisfaction in this life. Giving up on full satisfaction can propel you to embrace the precious moments of love and connection we experience with God, self, or others. Lastly, it can give you the courage to not only embrace but create the adventures which lie before you.