Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor, Claremont Presbyterian Church
I’m not a great Christian, despite the fact of my being a pastor (or perhaps because of that fact). I don’t pray a ton, and I go through long stretches of reading my Bible only when I’m working on a sermon or youth group lesson. Worse still, there’s lots of people who’ve reached a hand out to me for help–some money, a ride to the bus station, a hotel bill–who I have very eloquently refused, longing for the solitude of my car and the comfort of my iPod.
Being a Christian is hard. Like, really hard. The dance of discipleship is tricky and strenuous. It stretches our endurance at this turn and demands restraint at this stop. If not for the call of God, the grace of Jesus, and the strength of the Holy Spirit, nobody could do it. We’d all fall in a heap on the floor.
My fourth experience with the 30 Hour Famine taught me yet again that, as hard as it is to be a Christian, it’s even harder when you’re hungry. That realization hit me hardest about 27 hours in, right after I puked. I stumbled out of the bathroom to find two students aimlessly goofing off, students who obviously needed to be redirected to some more engaging end, and I just walked past them into the kitchen to fetch some water. Never said a word.
That this is something that needs to be “realized” tells you that I’m never hungry. In fact, most of the time I’m convinced that my safety is the barrier between me and a passionate life of discipleship. I’m so full. I’m so lazy. I’m so content. If only I suffered like the poor and hungry, I would lean more on God. Because what else do the hungry have but God? It rings almost Psalm-like.
We say that about teenagers too. They’re so entitled, so privileged, so comfortable–how can they possibly relate to the plight of the poor and hungry, much less choose to share in it? This year’s Famine experience lent some evidence to those sentiments, as students were stealing food we had stashed away to make snack bags for the homeless.
That’s the exception, not the rule. In fact, when I recommended after last year’s Famine that we could do a version of the event, only without the fasting, it was the students who shouted me down and insisted on it as the most important element of the experience.
The great good that comes of the 30 Hour Famine each year is this: students and their adult leaders get a very clear look at their limits. Further, we’re learning that the poor and hungry are functioning at those limits all the time. So we pray that the hungry would be filled, even as we curse the discovery of another stashed away granola bar wrapper.
God help us all.