God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. Luke 6:21,25 (NLT)
Boy, Jesus doesn’t mince His words! Are you fat and prosperous? The warning is there! But if you are hungry – God bless you!
And as the statistics show, the number of people in the UK struggling with hunger has increased over the last few years to 2020. This year, we saw an unprecedented rise in the number of people who were struggling to afford food on the table, and the use of food banks and other projects soared beyond comprehension.
In our small part of the world, in our local church, we saw nearly a three-fold increase in the number of households using the FoodShare programme, and the project provided hot meals to nearly eighty people every day, Monday through to Saturday – that’s higher than the number of people we see in our average congregation on a Sunday! And we were not alone. Other churches, all over the UK, reported similar numbers.
It’s not surprising. Let’s look at the statistics shared by the charity End Hunger UK:
A single person aged over 25 is entitled to basic benefits of £72.10 a week, but this typically reduces to a disposable income of £64.25 once contributions to rent and council tax, caused by recent policies, are taken into account. That’s 10% less than in 2012, even though we’ve seen 13% inflation since that time. Once you deduct utility bills, this £64 reduces to less than £44 a week in your pocket to last the week.
According to our research on a Minimum Income Standard for the UK24, the minimum weekly cost of food for a single person compatible with an acceptable living standard is £49.64. So disposable income on benefits is not even enough to meet a food budget, let alone the range of other things you need to buy, which add more than £100 more to disposable income requirements. Many of these are not optional, even in relation to nutrition: you need to spend money on transport just to get to the shops to buy the food, on clothing to look presentable when you get there, and on household goods that allow you to sit down, cook and eat what you have bought. So, our safety net is falling far short of paying even for a reasonable diet, let alone a decent life.
These figures explain why so many people are needing food banks, and why the figures are still rising. Income is 10% less than it was eight years ago, whereas the cost of living has risen 13%. Therefore, the average person on benefits is 23% worse off than they were eight years ago. It is barely an existence, not a life. And, as we read earlier, around 20% of the population of the UK live below the poverty line. They exist. They exist – below the poverty line – in the fourth richest country in the world! Shame on us!
The situation worldwide is even worse. World hunger is also increasing. According to actionagainsthunger.org “from 2018 to 2019, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million, and there are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014.” An anonymous quote circulating on social media and the internet claims: “the world’s hunger is getting ridiculous, there is more fruit in rich man’s shampoo than in a poor man’s plate.”
It that is really true, it is such a sad indictment of the world as we know it. We should be appalled and impelled into action. And, as Christians, we should be doing something about it.
Feed the hungry.
Isaiah 58:10 (NLT)
Of course, if we truly ‘love our neighbour’ we would make sure that they would not go hungry. The New Testament tells us to go further:
If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
Romans 12:20 (NLT)
What? Even our enemies? Feed them? Yes! Even our enemies. Nobody should go hungry – nobody. It’s just not right. And, of course, we should be passionate for doing what’s right. We should hunger for righteousness.
Hunger for righteousness
You see, you are also blessed if your hunger is not a physical hunger for food; but when you hunger for righteousness, when you hunger for the right thing to do and the right things to be done in your life and in your community and in your world. Then you are blessed.
Matthew’s version of this particular beatitude is slightly different:
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
If you do not experience hunger for food, do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Do you actively seek right standing with God (according to the Amplified version of the Bible)? Are you passionate about doing the right thing in your life, and seeing others do the right thing? And are you passionate about seeing the right thing happening in your community, in your country, and in the world at large? What is your attitude?
If you’re a Christian, check your attitude – your salvation depends on it. (Read Matthew 25:31-36.)
May we pray: Thank You, Lord, that you are our provider. Thank You, heavenly Father that You bless those who hunger – help us hunger for Your righteousness. We ask this in the precious name of our Saviour, Christ Jesus; Amen.
If you’re struggling with hunger right now, please get in touch. We may be able to put you in touch with someone who may be able to help. And may God Bless You.
Have you had your copy of ‘DARE to Hope!’ yet? You can download it here.