Home > Articles > Reflections


Is it possible we’re living under a self-inflicted famine?
Read Time: 2 minutes

All my life, there have been famines I’ve heard about.  But never experienced.  Food insecurity is something that can and does exist anywhere—and when we’re willing, we can and (sometimes) do find ways to help.

But famine is something else, something beyond, hunger on a massive scale.  So horrifying it staggers the imagination.

We need to bear this in mind when the Lord declares, “I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”  (Amos 8:11)  A metaphor, clearly.  Intended to make us think about how devastating, how lethal famine is—and have some appreciation for the extension of the idea to starving for words of the Lord.

The metaphorical famine cuts across social and economic lines.  Sometimes it’s those who have plenty in the literal sense, who are starving in the spiritual sense.  Jesus writes to the church in Laodicea, “You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”  (Revelation 3:17)  Literally prosperous, fooling themselves that they are just fine, but spiritually they are desperately impoverished.  What does Jesus say?  “Look, I’m standing at your door.  Let me in.” (verse 20)  Can they hear these words of the Lord?  Can we?  The famine of hearing the Lord’s words is not because there are no words!  It is because the words aren’t listened to.

In the same vein, with heavy sarcasm Paul writes to the believers in Corinth, “Already you have all you want!  Already you have become rich!  Without us you have become kings!” (1 Corinthians 4:8)  It’s the same as Laodicea.  They are self-satisfied.  They are sure they are just fine spiritually.  But almost the whole letter is Paul (metaphorically) taking them by the shoulders and shaking them, saying, “Pay attention!  I’m bringing you the words of the Lord!  Why aren’t you listening?”

Is it possible we’re living under a self-inflicted famine?

And here’s where the pinch comes.  How easy is it to tacitly assume, “That’s them—not me, not us.  We’re fine.”  But is it possible we’re living under a self-inflicted famine?  Not because there’s no word, but because we’ve settled into a life in which we’re not hearing it, or hearing only the bits we like.  I think this is a question worth pondering.

And here’s another.  There are places where the famine is not self-inflicted.  Lack of education, lack of access to Bibles, lack of access to teachers, outright suppression—these things all produce famine of hearing the Lord’s words.  There are places of material poverty where there is also hunger for the word.  The question is, can we do anything to alleviate this famine?

I believe the two questions are connected.  Are we still truly hearing the Lord’s words—words of hope, of good news, a call to change and become new people with new lives?  If we are, then we surely want to share those words!  If we’re listening in actual fact, we’ll hear the voice asking us to open the door.  And I think after we’ve opened up our own door, we’ll be eager to join the Lord in his work, finding other doors with hungry people behind them.

Love, Paul

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Suggested Readings
View all events
Upcoming Events