One morning during my junior year of college, I sat in the dining commons for breakfast with the Gospel of John open in front of me. I was reading the sixth chapter, one of my favorite chapters in Scripture even still to this day.

This section opens with Jesus feeding the five thousand, followed by his walking on water to meet his disciples across the sea. The next day the now-hungry crowd finds Jesus, and after a short conversation with them he says these breathtaking words:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

This passage has been absolutely crucial in my spiritual journey because it defines the essence of saving faith. Most of my life, I’ve thought of faith mainly as a decision based on knowing some facts about God.

Instead, faith is about coming to Jesus in such a way that the deepest hungers and thirsts of our souls are satisfied in him.

This truth was particularly poignant as I sat eating my cereal — due to the fact that I was hopelessly in love with a straight guy who I knew would never feel the same way about me. My heart was an explosion of seemingly meaningless desires, and I had no idea what to do with them.

I cried myself to sleep on a regular basis.

I honestly don’t remember what prompted me to do this at the time, but I decided to capture my thoughts and feelings in the form of a poem. I don’t consider myself a poet nor do I have much of a repertoire, but I do find myself returning regularly to this particular piece in moments when the longings of my heart feel overwhelming.

I lie in pain and anguish as one who longs for life
My soul feels cold and heavy from fighting with this strife
And here I read this promise as one who dies of thirst
As one who feels the hunger, whose heart will surely burst
“I am the bread of life” he says and turns me to his face
“I shed my blood to purchase you so you would know my grace”
“And as my Father draws you in I will not let you go”
“When you believe, out of your heart will living waters flow”
I stare at him with eyes agape not knowing what to say
He’s promised me eternal life, to raise me on that day
Can these hunger pangs compete with such relentless love?
Can satisfaction truly come by manna from above?
The white hot tears begin to flow as anger fills my chest
Does he not know of endless nights where I could find no rest?
“What makes you think that you can fill this void within my heart?”
“You think you know this pain of loss that’s grieved me from the start?”
“Aren’t you the one who filled my soul with songs of love and dreams?”
“And then without a second thought, you’d tear me at my seams”
The air grows still and silence stirs between my Lord and I
That look of love that fills his face now makes me want to die
His eyes are filled with kindness, such great power yet so meek
He holds me in his presence and then begins to speak
“Beloved son, I long that you would see beyond these lies”
“That you would know that I am he who answers your heart’s cries”
“Do you think I’ve not seen the ways you’ve tried to fill within?”
“Your desperate ache for peace and joy cannot be quenched with sin”
“I gave my life to break your chains, to finally set you free”
“Your hope for life and wholeness is only found in me”
“I am the treasure that you seek, the strength you long to feel”
“So come my child, taste and see, my love for you is real”
He then begins to wipe my eyes and in his arms I’m pulled
He whispers to me precious words and promises of old
His satiating, perfect peace begins to fill each limb
And finally I understand that I was made for Him

No matter your sexuality or gender. No matter your socioeconomic class or upbringing. No matter your age or marital status.

Every human being you’ve ever encountered was made to have his or her soul satisfied in Jesus — yourself included.

When have you found yourself the most satisfied in Jesus? To what other types of “bread” have you turned in order to fill the hunger and void inside?

  • Well-written my friend. I feel like many of the blog posts and podcasts are not as straightforwardly obvious about faith in Jesus Christ as this post of yours is. Hoping to see more of this on the blog in the future!
    And your poem made me shed a tear or two. So beautiful! ❤️

    • Thank you so much, Bradley! I really appreciate your encouragement. Jesus is everything to me and everything worthwhile in my life comes out of that relationship.

  • Jacob,
    Yes! This is what I have been trying to say, but you said it more clearly. Jesus Christ’s love will satisfy us far better than the love of any man! Why settle for a pleasure that destroys and discourages when God offers us “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forever”?
    You poem reminds me of Charles Wesley’s hymn that he wrote on the first anniversary of his conversion. Here are some of the stanzas:
    Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
    That bids our sorrows cease;
    ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
    ’Tis life, and health, and peace.
    On this glad day the glorious Sun
    Of Righteousness arose;
    On my benighted soul He shone
    And filled it with repose.
    Sudden expired the legal strife,
    ’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
    My second, real, living life
    I then began to live.

    • Charles Wesley, that blessed man. He knew how to capture the deep truths and joys of salvation in verse!

    • Thank you, Marshall, and thank you for sharing that hymn with me. Beautiful stuff!

  • “His satiating, perfect peace begins to fill each limb
    And finally I understand that I was made for Him”
    Jacob, you say you are not much of a poet, but this is beautiful. So very, very true. I appreciate it, my brother. God bless you.

    • Thank you for that encouragement! Sometimes I forget that He’s the ultimate person who I was made to be satisfied by and these are truths I need to continually preach to my own soul.

  • Thanks so much brother Jacob…you’ve been blessed with many talents!
    To answer your question…this may sound very strange, but it has been in those “alone” moments… Let me explain…
    I loved to travel…the “siren” call of seeing what’s behind the next turn in the bend always intrigued me. I’ve been blessed to have been able to visit 49 out of the 50 states (and have seen the other one from a distance)…47 of those states by train too. Since I never had anyone to go with, I would go alone to places. There were times in those travels I would find an open church and would go in and sit quietly for a while and meditate but that’s not where I would completely experience what I would below.
    After a full day of sightseeing…exploring…discovery, I would be tired and hungry, so I would find a restaurant to go and recharge my batteries. It was there in those times alone…when I had no other person to talk with…that I felt the amazing care and love of my heavenly Father. I would think about those verses in the Bible that encouraged me…comforted me…gave me hope. I would recall the words of those wonderful hymns too. In those places, sometimes people would (literally) give me dirty looks about eating alone…and I would find myself fighting tears as I ate,
    I felt God’s “pleasure” as I traveled…and in those precious moments of eating alone, God’s sweet presence would envelop me. They say that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted…and I believe that. I would not trade those moments for anything, brother. It sounds odd, perhaps, but that’s where I would see God’s character when I was alone in a big world. Those moments also forced me to reach out to others, but that’s other stories for another time, perhaps…May our Lord’s blessings and favor rest on you this day. This isn’t much of a post and very inadequate, but I trust it was worth a little something.

      • Thank you so much brother for your kind comments…you can’t know how much they mean to me! Same back to you!

    • Thank you for your encouragement and for sharing that piece of your story with me! I loved how you touched on the importance of getting alone with God and those moments of isolation where you experienced His presence. Jesus himself set a great example regarding the importance of getting away from it all and spending one-on-one time with his Father and we need to be doing the same. Thank you for the reminder.

  • You certainly have a poetic gifting. I appreciate the poetry in your posts, Jacob. We might have to spoken word your stuff one day.
    Thanks for this reminder of what really satisfies beyond the first bite.

  • Wow! Breakthrough!
    “Beloved son, I long that you would see beyond these lies”
    “That you would know that I am he who answers your heart’s cries”
    “Do you think I’ve not seen the ways you’ve tried to fill within?”
    “Your desperate ache for peace and joy cannot be quenched with sin”
    I usually detest poems, but the lightning bolt that came from this into my soul hit home. It’s a shame there aren’t local guys (SSA) to sit down with in person to chat and share. The accountability would be amazing.
    Have you thought of publishing? Writing more? Name it something like, “Poems for Dudes” or something!

    • Thank you so much for those very kind and encouraging words! I do hope to write more poetry in the future but at my current rate, I wouldn’t finish an entire book for another 25 years or so. 😉

  • “When have you found yourself the most satisfied in Jesus? To what other types of “bread” have you turned in order to fill the hunger and void inside?”
    My best friend died when I was fourteen, due to suicide (he was gay too and his father was a pastor). I never grieved for him like I should have, for fear that it would make me gay. Stupid me, I already was. Not grieving led to many bad behaviors on my part, one of which was living the gay lifestyle. I was having mindless sex with men because I was missing David. I just wanted to feel something, anything; even if it meant humiliating myself or subjecting myself to pain.
    When God showed me where David was buried, I was very upset. While I was there, He told me that David had a brother and his name. He turned out to be a pastor and gave me this scripture: “…God is not god of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:32). These are not the words of some anonymous writer, but of Jesus Christ Himself! For the first time I had hope. I am going to see David again. I have this on the best authority. Everything started changing for me after that. I started fighting pornography and developed a relationship with God; whereas before I just saw Him as some vengeful monster out to smite people like me.
    As to the other ‘bread’ I turned to, it was mainly porn and sex. It was all empty, giving a false sense of fulfillment that lasted only a few minutes, followed by guilt and shame. Jesus Christ is the only real fulfillment that never goes away. He in turn has restored the creative and artistic side in me. I actually like me now, and I didn’t for so long. I now have seventeen months of sobriety from porn, and nearly fourteen years of celibacy. For the first time I am genuinely happy! People at church talk about crowns of gold and such as a reward when they get to heaven. That is well and all; but my greatest reward will be to see David alive again! Love you bro!

    • Thank you for sharing that, Bradley! I can absolutely empathize with turning to empty and toxic things in just trying to feel something. Praise God that He has pulled both of us out of the pit and opened our eyes to see that He is the one who we’ve been longing for.
      The freedom and joy that comes from pursuing purity is more than worth any of the sacrifices we may have to make in the process.

  • I really appreciated this too, especially since it glorifies God in Christ, and not our feelings. I cried too when I read that sweet poem to our Savior.

    • Thank you so much, Joshua! I’m touched that it resonated with you so powerfully.

  • Man I’ve really wrestled with that scripture a lot. “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Really? I must be doing something wrong then? Have I not come to Jesus? Do I not believe in him? I sure seem to hunger and thirst a lot for the things you write about here. What does it look like, practically, to see those needs met in him?
    Concrete example: physical affection. That is a deep hunger of mine, and I think it’s safe to say it’s a legitimate (and perhaps universal?) human relational need. You write, “faith is about coming to Jesus in such a way that the deepest hungers and thirsts of our souls are satisfied in him.” What does that mean for physical affection? I feel like the only way I can square this question with my own experience and the rest of scripture is to say that his intention is not to satisfy this need personally and directly, but to mediate his providence through his body, the Church. And yet, isn’t that relying on people? When you rely on broken humans you go hungry and thirsty sometimes.

    • Ryan, one way God meets our needs is definitely working through other believers, including appropriate physical affection. I thank God for blessing me that way again and again!
      Sometimes though he chooses to meet our needs not in the exact way we want or expect. Sometimes He surprises us with something better! I sometimes want physical touch but instead God motivates my friends to show love instead by acts of service or words of encouragement. When I have gladly received what was given I can often look back and say it was MORE meaningful and lasting than the physical touch I craved.

  • Jacob Baranowski

    I'm a twenty-something computer engineer from the Midwest who feels just as comfortable debugging computer code as he does baking cheesecakes. Singing has always been my favorite extracurricular activity, and I've been doing it since I was two years old. I'm passionate about hospitality, and I strive to make my home into a place that absorbs chaos, gives back calm, and provides hope. I love Jesus, and I long for my life to show how wonderful He is.

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