We all need to eat.
People don’t usually need to be reminded of that. We become hungry, and we automatically look for an opportunity to consume food. We may not crave the food that is most healthy, and we may not eat in moderation, but we do regularly respond to our body’s need for nourishment.
Part of the Lord’s reentry program for the newly freed Israelites after 430 years in captivity was to provide a consistent source of food: manna. It was available at the same time six days a week, they couldn’t hoard it, and it helped them learn to keep the Sabbath day holy. They could grind it in mills, form it into cakes, and bake or boil it, but honestly, it didn’t provide a lot of variety. On rare occasions when the Lord gave them something else to eat, like quail, the people exercised no restraint, overindulged, and became ill.
Forty years later, as they prepared to enter the promised land, Moses taught them the lesson of the manna:
[The Lord] humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.Deuteronomy 8:3
What a lesson! Not all of our needs feel as urgent as physical hunger, but they are just as real. What do you do when you are spiritually hungry? Do you even notice? Do you feed your spirit as regularly as you feed your body?
As Jesus prepared to begin His ministry, He went into the wilderness to commune with God (See Matthew 4:1, Joseph Smith Translation.) At the end of a forty-day fast, He was tempted by the devil. He was hungry, and the devil told Him to turn some nearby stones into bread. Jesus responded by quoting Moses: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4).
I would paraphrase Jesus’ response in this way: Don’t prioritize physical comfort over spiritual health. Of course He needed to eat, but He was also aware of other needs which we too often neglect.
“Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness,” He said, “for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 12:6; see also Matthew 5:6). In Luke’s account, He couples that promise with a warning: “Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger” (Luke 6:25). It’s important to be aware of our physical and spiritual needs and to meet those needs in a disciplined way. It’s dangerous to become complacent and to forget that our need for nourishment is ongoing.
Every Sunday, we eat bread in remembrance of our Savior, who was born in Bethlehem (בֵּית לֶחֶם), “the house of bread,” and who called Himself “the bread of life” (John 6:35, 48).
Moroni tells us that members of the church look after each other and make sure that fellow members are “nourished by the good word of God” (Moroni 6:4). We wouldn’t think of standing idly by while someone we loved starved to death. We would provide the food they need. They may not be as aware when they are starving spiritually, but we must be just as willing to provide spiritual sustenance to those in need.
Today I will prioritize both physical and spiritual nourishment. I will eat healthy food in a disciplined way. I will also feed my spirit and find ways to provide spiritual nourishment to others as well.
Yet more fabulous insights!! Thank you so very much Paul!! I share these insights with my husband and friends. You are opening my mind to connect more in scripture! Thank you so very much!
May want. to check. the last sentence in the second to. last paragraph.
Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for the heads up about the extra period. I fixed it.