How Comfort Food Poses As Spiritual Food

I had been home with the kids all day long. School had been chaotic. At any given moment I was working with one child while three more bounced around calling my name. Then with assignments finally finished, we piled into the van to head off to the various classes and practices scheduled that evening. Drop this one off, pick this one up, rush these two through the grocery store, then pick the other one up and head home for bed.

Bedtime with six kids brings its own challenges, and by the time the bedroom door closed for the last time after four extra trips to the bathroom and two tattle-tales and a case of "I can't sleep," I was exhausted. I needed some sort of comfort, something to make me feel better after such a crazy day before I had to go to bed only to wake up and start all over.

The reason we struggle with regular time in God's Word is that we are investing in false comforts.

So where did I turn? Well the refrigerator, of course. Inside was my Coke Life, and on top, hidden from view, was my stash of chocolate comfort. The moment when I could take the first sip of that Coke and the first nibble of that chocolate had been rehearsing in the back of my mind all day. I had been meditating on it, daydreaming about it, hanging my hopes upon it. Looking forward to that moment had gotten me through the insanity of the day.

I ate my chocolate, drank my Coke, and just like that, the fleeting moment of comfort was over. Not only was there no help to be found, but now I added guilt for my self-indulgence to my load of exhaustion.

Broken Cisterns

Later on, I read in Exodus about the Israelites fashioning the golden calf. I was appalled! How could they do such a horrific thing? I didn't realize that I was guilty of the exact same idolatry. Then I saw this in Jeremiah 2:12–13: "Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water."

I was dismayed at the sin of God's people, never realizing that I was also forsaking the living waters and trying desperately to drink from my own broken cisterns.

God, forgive me.

Misplaced Affections

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I have also struggled with maintaining a daily commitment to the Word of God. Every New Year I have made some sort of commitment to lose weight and read the Bible more. And I have a hunch that I'm not the only Christian woman who makes these same two repeated resolutions.

Over the last few months, God has graciously helped me see the connection between the two struggles. Have you ever noticed how often in Scripture the Word of God is described in terms of food or taste? It's as if He knew that we would be guilty of misplacing the affections of our hearts, placing them on temporary food and pleasures of taste instead of on the eternal food He offers freely in His Word. Consider the following passages:

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Ps. 34:8).

More to be desired are they [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb (Ps. 19:10).

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps. 119:103).

"For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . . I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:33, 35).

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips (Ps. 63:5).

They feast of the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights (Ps. 36:8).

This is just a sampling. Over and over throughout Scripture, God makes it plain that the food and drink we lust after is only a temporary pleasure—it offers no real satisfaction. I can testify that this is true. How many times have I indulged in the pleasure of one food or another, only to realize after the last swallow that I am still empty, that the pleasure doesn't last?

My deceitful heart takes the affections that God Himself placed within me, affections that were meant for Him alone, and sets them on food that can never fill me up. My heart takes the beautiful words of Psalm 63:1 and distorts them until they say, "O comfort food, you are my god; earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

I wish I were exaggerating, but God has mercifully shown me how completely on target that assessment really is. And I wish I were the only one guilty of this misplaced worship, but experience and observation tells me otherwise.

What's on Your Throne?

Ladies, we must examine our hearts and see where our affections lie. Maybe it's not food, but we're all prone to placing something on the throne other than God Himself. You can find out what is stealing your affections by asking yourself a simple question: To what do you turn for comfort?

You may be able to totally relate to the situation I described at the beginning of this post, or you can probably picture your own version of a completely chaotic day. At the end of that day, would you turn to chocolate to feel better? Netflix? Facebook? Some other temporary comfort? What if we committed to forgo temporary comforts, put down the broken cisterns that hold no water, and turn to the fountain of living waters?

What if we committed to feast on the Bread of Life instead of temporary bread that crumbles in our hands? What if this is the year we intentionally place our affections on the Lord God and His Word? Think of the benefits—spiritual and physical—to be gained by turning to the Word of God for comfort instead of food!

God promises over and over in Scripture that when we turn to Him for comfort, we will be satisfied. His Word carries satisfaction that lasts far beyond any momentary pleasure that chocolate or a new outfit or a TV show can bring.

In John 6, after some of Christ's followers chose to turn away, Jesus asked His disciples if they, too, wanted to leave Him. Peter said simply, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68–69).

When we truly grasp that only Christ has the words of eternal life, we will run to Him, run to His Word, flinging away anything that has crept in as a usurper of His throne on the way.

The reason we struggle with regular time in God's Word is that we are investing in false comforts. It's as simple as that. I am so thankful God has shown me my sin of idolatry with food and how to knock it down by feasting on what truly satisfies. Why don't you spend some time in prayer, asking Him to show you any idolatry in your own heart and to help you set your affections on Him this year? I guarantee this is a prayer He will delight to honor.

About the Author

Monica Hall

Monica Hall

Monica Hall is a pastor's wife and mom of six in West Kentucky. She spends her days homeschooling and chauffeuring her kiddos, dreaming up family road trips, and curling up with a good book. She loves talking with women, sharing … read more …

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