Starved Spirits, Sorrowful Souls

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

We can be intelligent, healthy, rich, and religious and it would be meaningless without bread. The most pious saint is still dependent on bread. So this prayer is an admission of a great need; the need for bread and it is all-inclusive. No man can eat intelligence. We cannot eat money; we cannot eat the Bible and survive.

The implication in this prayer is clear: we are dependent creatures. We need something that we are incapable of furnishing for ourselves. The tractor moves down the furrows, we plant the seed, but what purpose would it serve if there was no life in the seed? Someone has put life in the seed, life in the soil, and life in the earth. Even though we are co-laborers with God in His work, we are still dependent upon Him and His creation. We know this because if the life in the seed and soil dies, we also die.

It is only when we realize and recognize the nature of our relationship to God are we able to even hope to understand our own life or to deal adequately with life's many complexities. Whether we like it or not, we are creatures of the dust and to dust we will return. We are wholly, completely, totally dependent upon God's mercies.

Give us today our daily bread. Not only is this prayer a reference to physical hunger, but also to spiritual hunger. Dr. David G. Myers, in his article, "The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty," observed: No society in the history of the world has ever enjoyed the standard of living Americans know today...

Yet since 1960, the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide tripled, violent crime quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, and some estimates put the incidence of depression in the year 2000 at ten times what it was in the year 1900. Americans are less happy today than they were 40 years ago, despite the fact that they make 2.5 times more money. How did we get into this mess?

We are indeed starved spirits; our souls in deep sorrow. There is a hunger down in our souls; in the very root of our being crying, begging, pleading to be fed.

There is the hunger for love. Many have never experienced it and do not really know what it is they are hungry for. But they are hungry; their spirits starved for someone to just care about them. This type of hunger can be likened to those times when we are hungry for food, but do not know what it is we are hungry for. So we just eat something, but it does not satisfy. Many of our brothers and sisters who are hungry for love try to find it in drugs or alcohol or gambling or sex or all kinds of vices only to learn that they do not satisfy the deep hunger for love and acceptance.

Jesus got hungry, not only physically but spiritually. You recall when He was going to Gethsemane He told His disciples to, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Matthew 26:36-38 (NIV).

Jesus was hungry. He was hungry for companionship, hungry for comfort, hungry for the presence of close friends, hungry to have somebody with Him who understood His agony, understood His pain, understood His sorrow, understood His death sentence. Jesus was spiritually hungry for empathy and to know that his disciples were with Him.

As a nation and as a world, our spirits are anguished and tormented for lack of spiritual food. Our longing reaches to the very depth of our being. We are so desperately hungry that we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Our stomachs may be full, but we are hungry. We may have money in our pockets, but we are hungry. We may have a roof over our heads and shoes on our feet, but we are hungry. We are hungry for understanding and need to feed from the plate on nonjudgmentalism and compassion. We are hungry for kind words and need to feed from the buffet of compassion and encouragement. We are hungry for belonging and need to feed from the bowl of forgiveness and mercy and tolerance. We are hungry for our critics to walk a mile in our shoes, put on the coat of our burdens, and wear the shoes of our pains. Our souls are in deep sorrow and the sounds of starving spirits resound throughout the universe.

OUR PLEA: Give us today our daily bread.
JESUS: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Rev. Saundra L. Washington, D.D., is an ordained clergywoman, veteran social worker, and Founder of AMEN Ministries. She is also the author of two coffee table books: Room Beneath the Snow: Poems that Preach and Negative Disturbances: Homilies that Teach which can be reviewed on her site. Her new book, Out of Deep Waters: My Grief Management Workbook, is expected to be available soon.

You are welcome to visit AMEN Ministries: Your Soul's Service Station for spiritual refreshing, soul edification, browse our newly expanded mini shopping mall or review our recommended books you may want to add to your personal library.

Blessings to all!

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