How many of us truly know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty? There are few worse feelings than abject hunger or thirst. Today, I skipped breakfast, and even as my stomach rumbled in church, loud enough for my daughter to hear, I was not experiencing true hunger. True hunger leads to desperation, which gives way to resignation, which ends, eventually, in death. When we talk about hunger and thirst, we immediately think of physical needs. Spiritually speaking, we also require nourishment.
Jesus told us: Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. And also He said: John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Studying God's word, digging deep into who God is and what He desires of us, fellowship with the Holy Spirit through deep, self searching prayer, allowing God's transforming power to have sway over your life, these are the things that bring us spiritual nourishment. Fellowship with other believers, worship and adoration of the Creator, self analysis in light of God's word, these are the things that feed and water our spirits. Basically, getting close to God and remaining in fellowship with Him is critical to our spiritual health and well being.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He said, "I thirst." I am sure that the ordeal He had suffered up to that point led to physical thirst. I am also sure that the pain and anguish He was suffering at the time overshadowed mere thirst. What if what Jesus was suffering was not physical thirst, but spiritual thirst. The opening verse of Psalm 22 and Christ's own words stated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" Is it possible that Jesus the man was, for the first time in all of eternity, separated from the Father and His thirst was spiritual. Was Jesus craving fellowship with the Father? Was Jesus parched in His spirit because He was unable to refresh Himself in the Living Water of communion with God. Jesus purposely placed Himself outside of fellowship with God in order to take on the sin of the whole world. Jesus, in that one moment in time, for the first, and only time ever, separated Himself from fellowship with the Father, that we who were already separated from the Father by sin, might be redeemed. Jesus was, by mutual consent, temporarily separated from the Father, the Father who announced, "this is my Son, in Him I am well pleased."
Jesus separated from the Father for our benefit, a selfless act that brought salvation to a lost world and provides us with Living Water. We also separate ourselves from God for our own benefit, a selfish act that brings consequences and cuts us off from the refreshing Living Water that God freely offers. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and when we abide in Him, He abides in us and provides nourishment to our spirit. When we do not abide in Him, we cut off the flow of spiritual sustenance making us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Just as our bodies become susceptible to attack from germs and viruses when we are physically malnourished, our spiritual lives become vulnerable to attack from Satan and his minions when we do not sustain our spiritual health through proper nutrition.
Just as there are plenty of poor choices in the realm of physical food, things that taste good or are fun to eat that are actually detrimental to our health, there is a great deal of counterfeit spiritual food that seems healthy or good but in reality brings great harm to those who partake. New Age religion, Eastern philosophy, the Occult, and other things that deny the power of Christ and His deity all seem spiritual and may appear good for learning and growth but in reality are poison to the soul. The way to avoid poison is to know truth so well that we recognize evil just by the very fact that it is contrary to the truth that we already know.
As Christ called out,"I thirst," so too should we cry out to God for streams of Living Water and seek from Jesus the Bread of Life that we may maintain spiritual health. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but if I am not strengthened by Christ because I am not taking the time to replenish myself spiritually, I will fail and I will fall. Victory is ours in Christ but we must go to the source of our strength and abide in Him that we may receive sustenance for our soul.