Because you are a spiritual being, you will experience spiritual hunger when your spiritual needs are not met. This isn't a truth I can quantify or graph or produce black-and-white data for. Spiritual things are much more ephemeral, as John reminds us in John 3:8. The Spirit is like the wind. You can't see the wind, but you can still see the effects of the wind. In the same say, you cannot see spiritual hunger, but you can see the effects of spiritual hunger. I see it in my practice all the time.
When people are spiritually hungry, they often turn to physical food in an attempt to fill the void. A relationship with food is substituted for a relationship with God. Food provides the reassurance, the comfort, the companionship, and in some cases, the love, instead of God. The greater the spiritual hunger, the more food and drink can be used to compensate. There is an amazing parallel in the devotion some people will give to their food or drink of choice. It is an almost religious devotion, complete with a type of "faith" in the substance's ability to make everything right.
This type of devotion has been seen before. It is idol worship, turning an inanimate object into an object of worship, devotion, and adoration. Back in more primitive cultures, they used objects of stone and wood and gold. Nowadays, we use objects of bread and sugar and alcohol.
Man-made idols don't work (from Isa. 44):
The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.
The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with the chisels and marks it with the compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.
He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.
Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god."
They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, "Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"
The beer in your hand is a lie. That fork in your hand is a lie. The desire to worship, to express adoration, to receive comfort and assurance is spiritual and can be filled only through a relationship with God. People have always attempted to substitute things they can control for a God who is bigger than self. They have always attempted to substitute things they create for the One who created them. It's never worked and just leaves the spiritual void unfilled, open and raw.
God continually told the Israelites to put down their useless idols and turn their devotion to him. The stuff we use for idols has changed over the years, but God's desire to fill up every void of our souls hasn't.
The above is excerpted from chapter 9 in Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within by Dr. Gregory Jantz.