I have a confession… I’m a food enthusiast.
To put it simply, I love good food. Whether I’m indulging in its flavors, preparing it with creativity, experimenting with new recipes, or serving it to others, every aspect brings me joy. However, I must admit I also tend to turn to food for emotional comfort. Although I’m in recovery, there are still moments when I struggle. As the holidays approached this year, I felt that familiar emptiness resurfacing in my psyche. You see, I’d recently received the devastating news of my oldest nephew’s passing. Understandably, it left a profound void in my heart. In the past, I would’ve tried to fill that void with food. But as I sensed God’s calling, I realized I needed to create space in my heart instead (Hebrews 13:1-3). This inner conflict led me to ponder: How does one create space in your heart for healing?
No matter what, make room in your heart to love every believer. And show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests. ~ Hebrews 13:1-3 (TPT)
Amidst the holiday festivities and the void left by grief, Hebrews 13:1-3 takes on profound significance. As someone recovering from emotional eating, I find deep meaning in the call to “make space in your heart to love every believer” and “extend hospitality to strangers.” Additionally, reflecting on the three ways God utilizes food in our lives provides powerful insights into the answers I seek.
1. The Empowerment Found in Famines
The tendency to fill my inner void with food brought to mind a fascinating Bible word study I recently conducted on famines as part of our deep dive into Ruth. During this study, I uncovered the profound way in which God utilized famines throughout history. He uses them as a means to capture Israel’s attention, responding to their disobedience and guiding them back to Him (Leviticus 26:16, 19-20).
While I in no way believe that God allowed my nephew’s untimely death as a form of punishment or due to any wrongdoing on my part (John 9:1-3), I can’t help but draw a parallel between the emptiness I feel in my heart following his passing and the physical vacancy left by famines in our stomachs. In both instances, it’s clear that God longs for us to turn to Him with any voids in our lives.
In moments of emotional emptiness, our instinct is to seek comfort or distraction. For many, myself included, food becomes a reliable source of solace. But let’s remember that true fulfillment can only be found in God and His boundless love (Psalm 63:3,5).
Embracing our emptiness as a transformative pathway for God to empower us. By filling those empty spaces with His presence, we become vessels of His love and hospitality to all those we encounter on our journey.
Through His love, we are empowered to extend our love to others and show them genuine hospitality (1 John 4:11-21). By filling our empty spaces with the presence of God, we become equipped to fulfill the divine command in Hebrews 13:1-3: to show hospitality, care, and love to all those we encounter on our journey.
So, how can you practically create space in your heart for healing? Let’s start by embracing our emptiness as a transformative pathway for God to empower us. By filling those empty spaces with His presence, we become vessels of His love and hospitality to all those we encounter on our journey.
2. The Empathy Found in Fasts
At times, when I sense the pull of emotional eating creeping into my life, I choose to fast to seek God’s strength in resisting the temptation to eat based on emotional hunger rather than physical hunger. Fasting, as a means of creating spiritual emptiness, also aligns us with God’s original intention behind the command to fast, which is to nurture compassionate hearts within us (Isaiah 58:6-7).
During a fast, we willingly empty ourselves of physical sustenance for a while, seeking God’s strength. This intentional emptiness serves as a reminder that we all experience different forms of lack in our lives, whether it be emotional, physical, or spiritual. Through fasting, we tangibly experience personal needs, reinforcing the significance of empathy and caring for those who are in need.
Allowing the empathy we feel in response to our emptiness to inspire us to support others can be truly transformative.
The parallel between the void experienced during fasting and the void of grief is deeply moving. Just as fasting strengthens our capacity for empathy, grief, when processed with faith, can cultivate a heightened sense of empathy. In both instances, whether fasting or grieving, God call us to be His instruments. We’re called to provide for others and showing them care (Hebrews 13:1-3).
Motivated by my heightened sense of empathy, I embarked on a journey of ministering to those who struggle to move forward after experiencing catastrophic events like job loss, homelessness, or the loss of a loved one. Allowing the empathy we feel in response to our emptiness to inspire us to support others can be truly transformative. It has the power to create space in your heart for healing. It has the power to change not only our own lives but also the lives of those we touch.
3. The Enjoyment Found in Feasts
Food holds a significant role in our lives as a means of celebration and remembrance, as God intended. Throughout the Old Testament, feasts were held to honor God’s provision, deliverance, and blessings (Leviticus 23). Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper to commemorate His sacrifice and celebrate our salvation (Luke 22:19-20). These feasts were not about indulgence but rather an opportunity for God to shower His people with abundant goodness.
The joy of being enveloped by the warmth and care of those dear to me, sharing in moments of laughter and love, serves as a poignant reminder of God’s unfailing goodness and boundless mercy.
During times of grief, it can be easy to overlook life’s blessings and lose sight of God’s faithfulness. However, feasting, particularly during the holidays, serves as a reminder of God’s unwavering presence, even amid trials (Psalm 77:11-12). Through the warmth of gatherings and the support of loved ones, God fills the emptiness in our hearts. This fulfillment and support align with the call in Hebrews 13:1-3 to demonstrate love and hospitality as we gather to address not only physical hunger but also the void within our souls.
I uncovered a profound truth: embracing the joy of family and friends during the holidays aided my healing journey after losing my husband in 2011. Envisioning the upcoming feast with loved ones, I anticipate a similar transformative impact. The joy of being enveloped by the warmth and care of those dear to me, sharing in moments of laughter and love, serves as a poignant reminder of God’s unfailing goodness and boundless mercy. It fills the void within me with His divine love and the love of those who surround me, igniting a spark of hope and renewal.
Amidst grief and emotional emptiness, we are often tempted to seek solace in food or other distractions. However, a higher calling beckons us to open our hearts to the love of God. Then, we can use our experiences to show genuine hospitality and care for others. Through the empowerment of famines, the empathy of fasts, or the enjoyment of feasts, food becomes a powerful tool that deepens our connection with Him and transforms our lives.Even in our moments of emptiness, we can become vessels of God’s love and grace, bringing blessings to others. Click To Tweet
So, as we enter this holiday season, let’s create space in our hearts for the boundless love of God and extend that love to those around us. Let’s choose to embrace emptiness, not just physically at the dinner table, but also within our hearts. Let’s allow God and His blessings to fill us. In doing so, we can radiate hospitality and kindness to all we encounter along our journey. Remember, even in our moments of emptiness, we can become vessels of God’s love and grace, bringing blessings to others. Even in the toughest of times, you can create space in your heart for healing.