“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
LIFE IN THIS FALLEN WORLD CONFRONTS US WITH A TWO-FOLD CHALLENGE. The difficulty is first to see that God is our deepest need and then to seek Him with the diligence that we should. The first is a problem of awareness — our understanding must learn how important God is to us. The second is a problem of motivation — our will must choose to seek God diligently. In both our understanding and our will, not to mention our emotions, we must learn to take God as seriously as He deserves to be taken.
If we don’t see that God is what we most deeply need, we won’t seek Him seriously. But even when we do see how basic our need for God is, it is often still the case that we don’t seek Him as earnestly as we should. We simply fail to deal seriously with life’s most significant issue. Why this is so is a question that ought to concern us daily.
Seeing the reality of our need and then seeking God require moment-by-moment effort. The decision to seek God with all of our heart can’t be made once-for-all and then forgotten. In every single moment of choice we must exercise our will one more time, deciding again and again to maintain integrity to what we know is most important. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Such is our continual, lifelong challenge.
Not seeing our real need and not seeking God are failures that have disastrous consequences, even in the here and now. The human heart groans, longing to be filled up, and if we don’t seek God as the object of our heart’s desire, we will try to slake our thirst in other ways, pursuing substitute satisfactions until we have ruined ourselves. To devote our hearts to desires other than God is not only to waste our years in vanity — it is to forfeit the deep joy for which we were created. What could be more tragic than to miss the triumphant satisfaction of our deepest desire simply because we didn’t see our need and we didn’t seek our God?
“The children of Israel did not find in the manna all the sweetness and strength they might have found in it; not because the manna did not contain them, but because they longed for other meat” (John of the Cross).