My son has been sick the last few days. He said his stomach was hurting, he’s felt queasy and has been looking pale. He has an barking cough to boot. He has spent a night in our bed and another morning there too.
But the tell-tale sign he really isn’t well is that he’s off his food. For those who know our boy, this is big. Whilst it doesn’t show in his physique, my wife and I were told that his dinner ladies at school started giving him double-size portions because he kept going back to them for seconds and thirds! He is usually an absolute delight when it comes to making food because he just enjoys it.
So, you know something is up when he just isn’t eating much. We went out to a restaurant the other day and, most unusually, he barely ate anything. Yesterday morning, hardly any difference. He had a bit of toast for lunch yesterday which – any other day – would be nothing but it’s the most he’s eaten in a couple of days. He is clearly not well because he is off his food.
The point I am slowly reeling round to here is that when we are off our food, it is a sign that we are really quite sick. As true as that is physically, it is equally true spiritually. If we are off our spiritual food, it is a sign that we are spiritually really very unwell.
Those who don’t want to sit under teaching and have no interest in sitting under the Word are off their food. They are exhibiting signs of spiritual sickness. We cannot hope to grow or press on in our faith when we are spiritually malnourished because we keep refusing food.
But often, these things can creep up on us. Many seem to believe that when they are ill, or facing a particular trial, that they are best keeping away from the church. ‘I’ll come back when I’ve got myself together’, they say. But the last thing you need when you’re sick is to become malnourished as well. There is no strength to be gained in spurning food.
The time to press into the church is when we are facing these things. Not only can the church family rally round in support, at a basic level, we need to keep receiving spiritual food. How will we persevere with Christ when we aren’t being spiritually fed? how will we grow if we don’t receive our spiritual food? How can we endure trials with all patience if we aren’t being built up with spiritual food from the Word? This sort of pulling away is symptomatic of deeper spiritual sickness.
Just as my son is seen to be sick because he is off his food, so we show ourselves to be spiritually sick when we are off our spiritual food.