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Esther Soul Food

Thought For The Week – Soul Food

Soul food or food for the soul? Esther shares her thought for the week.

I love good food. Don’t you? I have been fortunate enough to dine at some very nice restaurants and consume the most delicious food. Yes, I have felt full, (sometimes too full) but always, just a few short hours later, I have felt hungry again! The point is that physical food feeds the body but we human beings need more than that. We also need food for the soul.

The term “Soul Food” was first used by African slaves in the Southern United States (mainly in Alabama, Mississippi & Georgia) in the years between the end of the American War of Independence in 1812 and the start of the American Civil War in 1861. Now, I’m not going to dwell on this (that’s a topic for another time) but, this was an awful and shameful time in the history of the United States. Wealthy landowners not only kept slaves but many of them treated those slaves appallingly. In addition to all the other ill treatment they experienced, the slaves were expected to work extremely long and hard whilst not even being fed properly. They were given vegetables which were considered unfit to be fed to livestock. If they were given meat at all, it was the least nourishing cuts and often rotting and rancid.

In an attempt to disguise the taste of such poor ingredients and produce anything remotely edible (let alone tasty and nutritious) for themselves and their family, they began to cultivate and cook with herbs and spices similar to those they had known in their countries of origin. The cuisine they created, although simple, was hearty and delicious. Food to nourish the body and lift the soul – soul food

Today, in “first world” countries at least, everyone can eat the same foods no matter what their ethnic background,  the colour of their skin or their social status. At the meal table there is no discrimination, and rightly so! 

Yet in a world where there is such abundance and, dare I say it, over-production of food (it’s sickening to see how much perfectly edible food gets thrown-away each day by supermarkets, restaurants and even in our own homes). People are still going hungry, not just in some far off “third-world” state but right on our own doorstep. I thank God for organisations such as; The Way Ministry, Faith, Readifood, Cirdic and others which provide meals and essential food supplies for those who are unable to feed themselves and their families.

However, feeding our physical bodies is only half of the task. With our bodies fed, how do we fulfil our spiritual needs? Well, I had a look through my bookcase and it didn’t take me long to find an answer. No, it didn’t come from the latest book from Delia, Jamie or Levi Roots. The source was my “go-to” reference book, the Holy Bible.

The Bible refers to something called the “The Bread of Life”.  Now this bread does not involve mixing up flour, yeast, and water, but rather it comes from combining prayer, the word of God and the salvation of the Blood of Jesus. It doesn’t result in renewal of our bodies but rather in spiritual renewal.

In John 6:35, Jesus declares:

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry. 

John 6:35

Now, I can’t speak for others but, I can say from my own experience, that when I pray, and I get into the Word and I trust in the Blood of Jesus, I feel on top of the world and believe I can achieve things which, in my own strength, seem impossible like giving a presentation on YouTube!

God has made a promise that He will meet ALL our needs, both physical and spiritual and I believe with all my heart that He has, does and always will do.  However, His intention never was that we just sit back in our easy chair and be waited on hand and foot. No, the Bible sets out that we must actively seek His face, through prayer, and His Word and following Christ’s example to us in the way we live our lives.

There is an English saying “Variety is the Spice of Life”. In the Southern States of the USA during the middle years of the Nineteenth Century, the slaves could not enjoy any variety in their day to day so introduced ACTUAL spices into their cooking to try to improve their lives – hence the creation of soul food. We do not live in a perfect world but we live in hope of in-habit-ing one in the future. But while we are here, we can prepare for that glorious day by observing His Word and feeding our own soul with the Bread of Life.

Eat up!

Every week one of our members shares a short thought aiming to inspire you for the week. You can watch previous Thought For The Week videos by clicking here.