There is very little more discomforting than hunger. It has been used for millennia as a tactic of war and we have all seen the consequences of starvation pictured in the media. A look at the poetry from prisoners of war during WWI and WWII shows just how obsessed these men were with food on a daily basis.
Armistice Day will be on November 11th. That and food, drew my attention to this poem written to his sweetheart from Stalag Luft III, a German Prisoner of War Camp.
“I dream as only captive men can dream.
Of scrambled eggs, and shortcakes thick with cream;
I long for buttered creamy oyster stew.
And now and then, my pet, I long for you.”
For those who believe that life is just the result of some accidental machinery, food is nothing more than fuel.
But the existence of creamy oyster stew and shortcake thick with cream suggests that there is more to our appetites than merely keeping the motor running. Food is romance, it’s companionship, as the word ‘companion’ itself suggests (‘comp’ meaning ‘together’ and, ‘panis’ meaning ‘bread’).
Food also sets the boundaries between friend and foe. Which is why we have the injunction from Jesus—and applaud its application in times of war,
If your enemy is hungry, feed him. (Romans 12:20)
We don’t just want food. Ideally, we want beautiful food, tasty food, soul-satisfying food. We don’t just look to food as a means of escaping famine, we look to food as a means of friendship and life.
And so we write entire books on how to make our food more beautiful and more satisfying in every way. We do this because we hunger for something which all food represents.
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” With these words He explained the reason for all food. Food exists so that when Jesus came into this world and offered to satisfy the hungry with eternal life, we would know what He was talking about.
Food is a momentary arrow that points us toward that which satisfies forever. Jesus.