Sometimes, I get these piercing pains in my stomach, usually late at night. For instance, earlier tonight I came home after having spent the whole afternoon at a friend’s and with my church youth group. Both had been, I guess you could say, stressful events. Oh, they were plenty of fun and I got to see people I had missed over winter break. But the entire time, I felt as if something was grabbing hold of me, mentally and physically. I found myself spacing out while my friends laughed about something, and squeezing my eyes harder and harder during worship, desperately crying out for something. The night at church ended abruptly, and this death grip on my lungs had not subsided. In fact, it grew stronger and moved toward my abdomen, becoming more sharp and precise than before, to the point where I could barely even concentrate on which muscles I needed to move in order to stand up from my bed. I decided it was just hunger, so I struggled to dish out the leftovers of my parents’ dinner. That’s when I began to write this. I just finished by measly bowl of rice and beef and tofu. And while the pain has slightly diminished, I realize that it originates not from a simple problem like hunger but stems deeper into my recent mental state. With more time to myself from the holidays and winter vacation, I have often looked to the usual comforts we all retire to when we’re feeling sad or lonely or just plain bored. I’m sure you can relate if I mention just one example: Netflix. We crave entertainment and binge-watch and feel a little bit heartbroken whenever a show or movie reaches the credits. The fact is, we are never completely satisfied…or at least, we don’t stay satisfied by watching our problems away. I had given in to the thought that I would be satisfied. Not just by Netflix, mind you, but also by boys, food, Facebook, sleep, etc. None of these things will ever fully satisfy that deeper longing in us. The pain I received today reminded me of this truth. I had searched for attention and tried to satisfy my “boredom” amongst my friends and my youth group. But in the end, I was brought back to the reality of the situation: that I could not find satisfaction in anything unless I looked to God first – the one Giver of joy and contentment. I knew it all along, but didn’t realize it until the emptiness really took hold in my mind.
Perhaps you think that I have over-analyzed a simple stomachache and that I have issues because I bad-mouthed Netflix. But just now, in that little break between the paragraphs, I put my phone down to just pray and come to God once and for all. I asked to remember where true satisfaction comes from, and to receive the diligence needed to seek God daily, over anything else. When I opened my eyes, the pain was gone, and I felt more free and clear-minded than I had in a while. I believe God is asking me tonight to run to Him again, and abandon my habits of first running to the meaningless “comforts” in my life. Interesting how God works even in an ordinary stomachache.