Chinese Buffets and Our Consistent Neediness

Most people don’t get excited when their car tells them it’s time to change the oil, but I do. Two blocks from where I get my oil changed is one of my guilty pleasures, Grand Buffet and its endless plates of lo mein. It’s not healthy – largely because I overeat – so I have a quota limiting me to only going when I change my oil, which is why I get excited to change my oil.

Last week in Las Vegas we went to Sunday Brunch at the buffet in Caesar’s Palace, and while I love my local Grand Buffet, Caesar’s put it to shame. With nine unique kitchens cooking different cuisines, the choices were overwhelming. I was sad because I knew my stomach wasn’t big enough to try everything – pasta is my favorite food, and I didn’t have anything from their Italian kitchen! I consoled myself by remembering that I would be hungry again in six hours and could eat a bowl of pasta then.

I want you to pause and think about what I just said. I said that I am grateful for my hunger! Think of how absurd this would be to someone living two hundred years ago or someone living in a third-world country, yet most, if not all, my readers can relate. This statement only makes sense in a world with abundant food – most people in history would curse hunger because no matter how much they ate, they needed to find more food, something that wasn’t easy.

Living during this unique time makes it hard for us to relate to passages like this in the Bible:

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water. John 4:13-15

How can I emotionally relate to this passage if I’ve never dealt with serious thirst? Yet the principle still applies.

God designed us with lots of needs from food and water to a sense of purpose and belonging, and just like we can’t eat one huge meal and be okay for a year, we can’t feel a sense of belonging for a day and expect to never have too have that need met again. God designed us to have our needs consistently met.

As a single man in his late 20’s, I struggle with loneliness, and while I hope to get married and enjoy a deep emotional connection with my wife, everyone who marries becomes thirsty again. I know this because I’ve seen it play out in my life. My good days at work don’t always carry over and translate to a good evening at home; I’ll start a new job and find it challenging and stimulating, but soon it becomes burdensome; I’ll go on a great trip, but soon I long for the next one; I’ll connect with a friend, but the next night I find myself alone again. The list goes on.

Lately, I’ve been discouraged and frustrated by my neediness, but eating at the buffet, gave me hope for the future. If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can have confidence and hope that he will return and meet all our needs. On that day, I will be grateful for my needs because I’ll get to enjoy Jesus as he meets my needs in a perfect relationship for eternity.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 12:33

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