My heart is often hungry. Thankfully, it is not the kind of hunger or loneliness that shuts things down. This hunger may be best compared to a low-grade fever. It’s a low-grade spiritual longing. I suspect that most have these same spiritual hunger pangs. We have this hunger because we often live in such a way as to make a spiritual life more difficult. The spiritual food to satisfy this craving is Truth, Life and Love. We do certain things, or don’t do certain things as the case may be, that keep us feeling far from God and our hearts lonely. My teacher, Fr. Tom Hopko, made a list of the ten essential conditions for coming to know God’s truth and finding life that are so simple and helpful that I want to share them with you over the next few weeks.
“The first essential condition for coming to know God’s truth and finding life is the belief that the truth of things can be known, and the desire to know the truth and to do it, wherever it leads, is most essential. Indeed it is everything. When people have this desire and seek truth in order to do it, and are ready to do it whatever it takes to find it, know it and do it, God promises that they will find, and understand and live. In a sense, this desire and seeking is all that is necessary.” Fr. Tom Hopko
And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
The spiritual life is a life of asking, seeking and knocking. The first essential condition is the belief that there are answers to our questions and an intention to follow through with what we think God is asking of us. One does not need a large amount of faith to have belief and spiritual desire operate. Jesus taught that one need only have faith the size of a mustard seed to see impossible things become possible. How do we generate faith? Some people seem to naturally have more of it. But one thing we can all do is imitate the Psalmist and tell our souls, “believe.”
Psalm 103 1 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!