My grandmother used to bake mouthwatering, fried apricot pies. Just thinking about it gets the juices squirting in my mouth! As a kid, I could eat a dozen of them.
I distinctly remember one day I ate more than my share of the delicious pies. That night around 1 AM, the Grim Reaper came calling. I felt a burning in my stomach. I had never had heartburn before. So I mistook the indigestion for—and I’m not kidding—hunger pangs!
Guess what I did? I went downstairs and ate a few more fried pies. A couple of hours later, I woke up even hungrier! So I went to the kitchen again. See the pattern?
Here’s the terrible irony: I was trying to take away my pain by eating the very thing that caused it.
The spiritual lessons from that are huge.
Eating What’s Hurting You
God made us to hunger. The pangs we feel come from His design. He also has provided what we need to satisfy. It’s important we remember the Lord designed both the need and its solution—the pangs as well as the gratification.
We have other pangs in life too, don’t we? Some are needs, some are godly desires, and others are flat-out lusts. At times, it can seem impossible to split the hairs between them. Whether we struggle against loneliness, personal significance, sexual frustration, or our purpose in life—to name a few—each of these pangs also finds its origin (and its solution) in God’s design.
The problem? The world also offers solutions to our pangs.
Take fast food. (Fried pies work as well.) On our busiest days, fast food offers three terribly attractive qualities:
- It’s quick.
- It’s convenient.
- It’s tasty.
But the drive-through menus fail to mention how these short-term benefits carry with them a long-term health hazard.
Temptation’s Strongest Tug
Given the choice—all other things being equal—we want to do what’s right. We want God’s solutions to our physical and emotional pangs. But the problem comes when most godly solutions require delayed gratification. Things are not equal. That’s what makes temptation so tempting.
Let’s face it. One of the biggest tugs of temptation comes from its promise of immediate gratification. It’s quick, convenient, and tasty.
Yet in our determination to stay faithful to God, we find ourselves struggling in the long gaps between getting satisfaction.
- As we sit at the red light in God’s plan, white-knuckling the steering wheel, we can mistake the gaps for God’s apathy or even cruelty.
- As the days and weeks and months add up, our needs feel bigger and bigger, and temptation’s alternatives often seem irresistible.
Bait and Switch
But a funny thing happens after we sacrifice our integrity on the altar of convenience. Instead of satisfying our God-given pangs, temptation’s quick fixes only intensify the cravings—and our godly needs become ungodly greeds.
Temptation is like that. It only fuels your desire for more. It never satisfies. It’s a vicious cycle of bait and switch.
When we step outside of waiting on God, we’re desperately seeking to satisfy our pain by pursuing the very thing that’s causing it.
Why You’ll Never Get Satisfaction from Fried Pies
Jesus quoted a verse at a point of extreme physical hunger:
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. —Matthew 4:4
Jesus reminded the tempter that God never designed people to live merely as physical beings. Rather, our physical decisions always go hand-in-hand with our spiritual lives. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and any decision that compromises our walk with God can never be God’s will for our bodies—however great the pangs seem to scream.
Temptation always minimizes the consequences and maximizes its pleasure. But force yourself to do just the opposite, because that is reality.
Our joy in life cannot come from physical gratification. It must be in our relationship with God. (Tweet that.)
Jesus’ words to the woman at the well point to more than a physical thirst: “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again” (John 4:13). Everything we draw from in life for meaning and purpose apart from God only intensifies the pangs.
“Our heart does not rest,” Augustine observed, “until it rests in God.” Until we put God at the center of our significance, our loneliness, our sexuality, and our purpose, we will never get satisfaction—only a temporary gratification that intensifies our pain.
Our emotional and spiritual heartburn finds its only solution in a growing relationship with God.
Tell me what you think: How do you get satisfaction for your pangs? To leave a comment, just click here.
This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.
• What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you?
• If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.
You will discover what to do when it seems God does nothing.