“The hungry man needs no help to teach him how to beg.”—William Gurnall

Recently over lunch, a friend asked me how I had been stretched most in the past few years. I immediately said that difficulties in life had forced me to realize in a new way that life’s circumstances are not what bring satisfaction in life; only Christ is.

Life’s difficulties have the potential to create in us a greater desire to draw near to God. This has stretched me, because my greatest temptation, like so many, is to rely, for happiness, on things going well. But Scripture reminds us again and again that even the greatest and noblest things in life cannot bring ultimate satisfaction. Only God can.

Do you ever find that you’re happy only when things are going “according to plan”? What is really happening is that you have replaced God with something else you think can meet your needs.

My wife Melinda and I have been reading a devotional book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, The Quiet Place, a book I would recommend to men and women alike. Today’s reading hit home for me. Miss DeMoss said, “I have come to believe that one of the greatest reasons we don’t pray more than we do is this: we’re not desperate. We are not really conscious of our need for God.”

She goes on to quote Puritan pastor William Gurnall. “The hungry man,” Gurnall said, “needs no help to teach him how to beg.” When things are going well for us, we’re tempted to allow ourselves to have our hunger satisfied—our needs met—by our favorable circumstances. And we’re tempted to stop “begging,” because we don’t feel spiritually hungry.

But God can use life’s difficulties to create in us a greater desire for him, a yearning for nearness to him. When things are not going well, we have a greater sense of our true need, because our ultimate needs are not being met by our immediate circumstances. And that sense of need has the potential of creating within us a hunger for that which will truly meet our needs, and the only One who can truly meet our ultimate needs is God.

So when you’re experiencing difficulty in life, I encourage you to allow it to create in you a hunger for God, a sense of desperation and need for the only One who can truly meet your needs.

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