Appetite comes from deep inside. It’s the signal from our body that there is hunger and need. The curious reality is that there is physical hunger and there is soul hunger. From time to time I feel the physical hunger for steak. Sometimes I want pizza and sometimes I want Mexican food. Appetite speaks clearly to tell me what would really be good at that moment.
The appetites of the soul speak with the same kind of specifics. The soul hungers for things deeper within. From time to time it craves to be noticed, to be forgiven, to be accepted, for peace, to be understood, and for things to be right. The hunger for these show up in my life at various times. They come alive when I am alone, when I have failed, when I feel distant, when I am afraid. My soul appetite speaks clearly to tell me what would really be good at that moment.
It is at this point that things get really interesting.
There is a definite connection between the hungers of the soul and the hungers of my body. When the hungers of my soul are not truly satisfied, the hungers in my body are ignited. When I feel alone, afraid, unaccepted, defeated, I want to turn to something physical hoping it will make me feel better.
And it often works.
At least it works for a while.
Then I want more.
More of what seems to make it better.
The Scriptures describe these two appetites. In a conversation with some Jewish people about their ancestors, they talked with Jesus about the time God provided bread for them miraculously from heaven.
Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, as it is written, “He gave them bread from Heaven to eat.” John 6:31
It was physical bread to be eaten and enjoyed.
It was for the body.
Jesus continued the conversation with them and described a different bread, one that was for the soul and all that it hungered for in acceptance, love, forgiveness, peace, hope, understanding, intimacy, and so much more.
And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. John 6:35a
Jesus described Himself as bread – food that was eaten daily to bring health, life, and joy.
Without even taking a breath, Jesus makes a startling statement about the effect of taking in all that He is.
He who comes to Me shall never hunger… John 6:35b
Those who run to Him when their soul appetite rages for something that no physical appetite can touch, experience something unusual. They experience satisfaction – complete satisfaction of the soul.
They have found the place to eat that brings an end to their craving for attention, relief, hope, acceptance, peace, understanding, and intimacy. All that the soul longs for is met in Jesus. He gives Himself fully and freely to those who come to Him with their soul hunger.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
When the soul is unsatisfied, it cries out for food, drink, drunkenness, lust, greed, and fighting. It screams out, “I must have it!” Patience, self-control, and wisdom leave. Demand takes over. The soul demands to be satisfied. Its hunger is so great that it takes over physical hunger and makes it its slave. “I must eat. I must drink. I must have this drug. I must lust. I must gorge myself.”
As a nation, we are seeing the effects of out of control appetites. The appetites of the body however are not the problem. How do we begin to experience control over our physical appetites?
1. Learn to recognize the appetites of your soul
You know what it’s like to hunger for Mexican food or for a juicy steak. Do you know how to recognize the appetites of your soul? Learn to recognize the hunger for attention, acceptance, peace, friends, love, understanding, etc. This may not be an easy process. It may require some time. It may require writing down your thoughts. As you recognize loneliness, sadness, depression, fear, discouragement, you’ll be ready for the next step.
2. See how your physical appetite is related to the appetites of your soul
With some observation, you may begin to notice how the appetites of your soul and your physical appetites are connected. This again may require some time and writing to begin to match the two. Keep in mind that physical appetites include food, alcohol, sex, and affection.
3. Look to Jesus for the appetites of your soul
Jesus said that He was the bread of life and that those who come to Him will never hunger. Instead they will be satisfied. He offers all that the soul longs for. He offers understanding, forgiveness, peace, love, the gift of righteousness, acceptance, hope, grace, mercy, and so much more! More wondrous is the fact that He offers them without them having to be earned. He gives them freely to those who will come, eat, and enjoy. Those who hunger and come to humbly enjoy will experience ultimate satisfaction.
4. Return again when your soul hungers
Many assume that because they have already received Jesus that they shouldn’t have hunger in their soul. Our soul will always hunger because there will be times that we fail, fall, are weak, are lonely, etc. In every one of those moments we can return to Jesus and find soul satisfaction. The day we first received Jesus was only the beginning. On that day we learned how our soul is fed. We learned how we find satisfaction. And Jesus invites to return to eat of all that He has prepared. He invites us to eat and enjoy!
As we understand our real hungers and learn to eat daily from the peace, acceptance, understanding, grace, and favor that is in Christ, we will experience soul satisfaction. We will also begin to see our physical appetites diminish. We are invited to a lavish table filled with the most wondrous foods for the soul. Let us eat freely from all that He has and find ourselves satisfied!