What I’m Reading: A Hunger for God (and the Sanctifying Effects of Ciliac Disease)

hunger-for-godI’ve had “Celiac Disease” on the brain lately. It’s a small thing. I keep telling myself that. But I also believe that it’s a spiritually significant thing—something the Lord desires to use to conform me to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). Toward that end, I started reading Piper’s book A Hunger for God tonight. (It’s available as a free pdf download here.) Here’s the journal entry I wrote on one of the blank pages in the back:

“My recent diagnosis with Celiac Disease has effected me more than I’d like to admit. Food hasn’t been a source of nutrition for me, but of indulgence—probably making other indulgences more likely by creating a habit of “feed the need.” I’m hoping the Lord will use the CD to draw me closer to Himself, making me dissatisfied with anything else and more hungry for Him and holiness. And I’m hoping this book will help in that journey.

1 Cor 6:12 “I will not be mastered by anything.”

So far, the book has encouraged the very sort of biblical meditation for which I’m looking. In Piperesque fashion, the first line is provocative: “Beward of books on fasting.” He rehearses the biblical warnings against unhealthy asceticism (1 Tim 4:1-3; Col 2:20-21; 1 Cor 8:8; Luke 18:12-14). Before long, though, he strikes the root of the issue with what I’m guessing is the first of many pointed lessons:

“‘Desires for other things’—there’s the enemy. And the only weapon that will triumph is a deeper hunger for God. The weakness of our hunger for God is not because he is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with ‘other things.’ Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God.” (p. 10)

He builds on that two-pronged benefit of fasting a few pages later. Fasting of various sorts should be (a) an expression that our hearts do delight in God more than physical pleasure, and (b) a help to encourage our hearts to delight in God more than pleasure—thus, the phrase “express, or even increase” from the line I quoted above.

A few more thought-provoking paragraphs:

“God’s Greatest Adversaries Are His Gifts

The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable….

‘The pleasures of this life’ [Luke 8:14] and ‘the desires for other things [Mark 4:19]—these are not evil themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.” (p. 14-15)

“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened.” ( p. 23)

Ironically, my physical hungers may be paving the way to a spiritual feast. I pray so.

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4 Responses

  1. What a gift to be able to view your new challenges in this way. This is “where we live” (for those dealing with food issues–allergies, “disorders”, intolerances and otherwise), but so wonderfully applicable to life in general. It is much bigger than just “to eat or not to eat”. Thanks for the excerpts. I am putting it on my TBR list.

  2. […] I was encouraged over the weekend to read the following thoughts from John Piper’s book A Hunger for God, which express the same pathos of longing: “The cry of the early church was, ‘Come, […]

  3. I have the Book Hunger for God and can’t wait to start it with a girl friend, one over seas and one in town. I also cant tolerate gluten and know that this too is a journey to bring me closer to Him with a real hunger for His presence with suffering in the flesh. I love John Piper and really think he has a special gift.

  4. I was surfing the web this evening and found your blog. After reading the post that I had found through google, i began to look your categories and saw the one for Celiac disease. My two sisters, my Grandma, my Pastor’s wife, as well as several other people I know also have celiac disease. This got me interested in figuring out who you were and I found out that you wrote one of my new favorite songs “My Jesus, Fair.” I just wanted to thank you for the blessing that song has been to me.

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