Summary: Expounds on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:6; "Blessed are they which hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."

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I once read a story written by a man named Franz Koffka. The story was entitled “The Hunger Artist.” And of all the works by Koffka, this one short story seemed to sum his personal thoughts about life. This story was such an expression of him and had such an impression on him that he desired all of his other works to be burned, but insisted that this one be spared. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a man known as the Hunger Artist. He made his living by professional fasting. He would go for extended periods of time without eating and drinking anything and people would pay to see him do it. At that time, professional fasting was a respected, appreciated, and very lucrative business. Picture this in your mind.... There would sit the hunger artist on straw in a small cage expressing his will power to go for long periods without eating or drinking anything. He would fast for forty days and when the forty days were up the band would play, and his manager would give a speech.

Then two attractive ladies would lead him in his weakened condition out of the cage. The crowd would roar with excitement and ultimately they would pay him a great sum of money in appreciation to his great work of art.

However, there came a time when professional fasting was no longer understood nor appreciated by the people. The man lost his manager and had to join the circus. When he hooked up with the circus, he became down and depressed; despondent and discouraged because of the raw meat that constantly passed him… Because of the roaring of the animals at night… Because of the horrible smell that filled the air…The people paid him no attention as they rushed by him to see the more popular exhibits in the circus.

He was ignored and forgotten about, even the leaders and the owners of the circus forgot him. His fast went way past forty days, because nobody bothered to count the days. And ultimately they found him one day half conscience slumped over in the cage.... They rushed over to assist him and in his last dying breath, he told his secret.... He simply said, “I have to fast; I have no choice.... You see, I couldn’t find any food that would satisfy me…” (repeat)

I thought this was a unique story, and as I studied and learned more about the author Franz Koffka, the story became a little more significant and a little more important, for I discovered that Koffka was an atheist. He didn’t have a religion; he didn’t believe in any God!

When I put together that fact that he was an atheist, and the fact that this parable seemed in his words, to sum up what he felt about life, I came to the understanding that the story of “The Hunger Artist” was not about Physical Hunger but it was about Spiritual Hunger.... Underneath the surface of this story, Franz Koffka was talking about his own spiritual condition! You see, he was The Hunger Artist.... He recognized his soul was starving, but he said, “I can’t find anything in life that will satisfy me!”

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