Jesus suffered in many of the same ways we do, and our relationship with Him operates in the same world as all our other realities.
Many of us view religion as an entirely different part of life from everything else that happens in our world. We fail to realize that Jesus suffered in many of the same ways we do, and that our relationship with Him operates in the same world as all our other realities.
Two things stand out that are prevalent to the human condition.
We all have heart hungers, deep longings that sometimes seem so hard to fill. We have a dissatisfaction with the way things are, a restlessness that sometimes manifests itself in the form of an aching feeling inside. These are often the hungers that either aren’t acknowledged or seem impossible to fulfill. Some people do not spend much time considering these hungers. Others use many strategies that prove ineffective. Yet these heart hungers are the most significant in terms of life fulfillment and meaning.
We all face a mountain of obstacles that tend to prevent those heart hungers from being adequately fed. Just admitting or embracing our hungers isn’t enough. Hungers automatically drive toward fulfillment. But all of us encounter obstacles to overcome for satisfaction to be realized. And this means work, more energy, focus, determination, tenacity—all those traits that take time to develop.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of the best-known aviator in history, Charles Lindbergh, became a well-known author and often spoke to women’s groups. Here’s how she once described this human dilemma: “The problem is not merely one of woman and career, woman and the home, woman and independence. It is more basically how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”1
Notice the heart hungers she describes: the hunger to be and remain whole, to be and remain balanced, to be and remain strong. Those are powerful human longings. They manifest themselves in a variety of ways. And unless they are effectively addressed, those hungers not only go unfulfilled, but they create areas of brokenness, dysfunction, and disease. Consider the high level of addictions in our society, relational fragmentation like divorce, obsession and compulsions, busyness, the “workaholic” syndrome, narcissism, hedonism—and the list goes on. Our inner hungers are powerful.
Notice also how Lindbergh describes the mountain of obstacles that often keep people from feeding those hungers in meaningful ways: the distractions of life, the centrifugal forces that tend to pull us off center, the shocks that come in at the periphery and crack the hub of the wheel. She knew what she was talking about. In 1932, three years after she and Charles were married, their son was kidnapped and murdered. Talk about something that would pull a person off center and knock them off balance. Crisis is often one of those forces that reveal how centered we are, how balanced, how much ballast or inner weight we truly have.
But it doesn’t need to be something that big to pull us off center. It can be busyness, loneliness, the many demands of living and trying to survive, like competition at work or in the family, the pressures of deadlines at school, work, or home, finances, physical and emotional exhaustion, demanding children, teenagers, retirement, our personal need for self-esteem and a sense of value that get battered each day, our sense of personal identity, our drive to be loved or admired and respected.
The point is, we all have these deep needs and hungers. We all face obstacles to getting them satisfied, included misdirected and ineffective strategies. So we all experience varying degrees of dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and brokenness. It is the human condition.
So what do we do about it? How do we go about dealing meaningfully with our deepest hungers? Do we deny them or feed them? Is life only about survival or also about potential? Jesus once spoke a simple but profound spiritual reality. He up-ended the traditional religious paradigm with a new perspective: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6, NKJV).
What He was telling us is that our hungers can be completely filled only as we develop an abiding relationship with God. Other routes lead to frustration and loss. Only Jesus fills our hearts.2