“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7).
IN THIS AGE OF AFFLUENCE AND ABUNDANCE, MANY OF US HAVE BECOME JADED. Tragically, we’ve lost our childhood sense of wonder at the big, wide world around us. We’ve bought so many things and been so many places, it’s impossible to impress us anymore. No matter what it is, we’ve been there and done that. Frankly, we are bored. The law of diminishing returns has set in.
There is an old adage that says, “Hunger is the best sauce.” When we’re not very hungry, we might add a little sauce to a dish to make it taste better. But the food doesn’t need any sauce when we are ravenously hungry; we appreciate it without any “help.” And this is exactly what Proverbs 27:7 is about: “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” When we’re full, we tend to get picky. But when we’re hungry, even bitter things become sweet. The principle here is that abundance presents a challenge for us. When we have not only what we need but more than we need, it is not easier to enjoy life, as most people think, but much harder. The poor man has the advantage of being hungry enough to enjoy every little thing.
As we mature, we learn that moderation really is a good practice after all. I love a What-a-Burger hamburger about as enthusiastically as a man could love any food on the face of the earth, but I find that I enjoy them more now that I don’t live in Texas and can’t get one any time I want it. I’ve gone down hard on this, but I’m gradually coming to see that, in this world, less is more.
You see, the feelings that we call “hunger” and “emptiness” (and we used physical food only as an illustration) are not to be avoided. They can be our best friends. I know that fact is hard to grasp now that we’ve lived so long in a world dominated by consumerism, but it’s true. Unmet worldly needs remind us of our need for God, and therefore play a very important role in our lives. In an affluent world, it’s possible to ruin our appetite for God with a worldly feast and delude ourselves into thinking we have what we need. But if that happens — if we are too full of temporal satisfactions to have any room left for God — then we’re in big trouble.
“Even God cannot fill what is full” (Teresa of Calcutta).