Have you noticed that we never seem to know when we're actually hungry? It has perhaps always been one of man's greatest struggles.
Hunger is one of our most primal instincts, and it should be. Without the proper nourishment, we simply cannot do the things we need to do. From our very earliest days, we begin to recognize our hunger; it's one of the primary reasons that babies cry. But as we grow older, we seem to satisfy nearly every ache of emptiness with the same resolution: food.
I can't help but wonder if that's not what was happening in the Garden when the serpent tempted Eve.
We're never told that Eve was out foraging. All that the Scripture says is that the serpent was crafty and asked the woman a devious question. Now, if we give the serpent his craftiness, it follows that the woman was not out looking for dinner or even for a snack. She might not have been thinking about fruit at all - forbidden or otherwise. She was probably just out for a walk. Then the serpent says, hey. I have a question about these figs over here. (See my thoughts on the forbidden fig.)
And after the serpent's question, we can probably reasonably assume that Eve still wasn't feeling particularly hungry. But she was likely feeling a whole host of other things. She was probably feeling the weight of her own limitations. Did she remember exactly what God had said? Was there something she needed to know that she did not currently know? She was probably feeling a bit of curiosity. Was God really telling the truth? What exactly doesn't she know? And just why not? Maybe for the first time in her life, she was feeling deprived. Maybe she really wanted to try one of these figs.
See, one does not eat of the forbidden fruit simply because one is hungry; one may, however, eat of the forbidden fruit if any of a number of other things is posing as hunger. Any ache of emptiness will do.
If it was just hunger, that's one thing. Eve knows a thousand amazing places in that Garden to get food. Good food. Great food. Even, we can assume, great figs. But what's so devious about the serpent's plan is that he's created in Eve a false hunger; it is an ache posing as a hunger, and only the forbidden fruit will do.
The same is true for us. There are a number of different aches in our lives posing as hunger, and it's how we get caught up in all the forbidden things around us. It's not that we have a need for nourishment, or an emptiness that any good food will solve. No. It's that we have an ache that cannot be solved by good food; it's a gnawing pain that demands the forbidden.
We have any number of names for this ache - boredom, fatigue, restlessness, fear, stress, you name it. But the principle is the same. And so is the whisper. Did God really say....?
It's a whisper that brings us face-to-face with our own limitations. It's a whisper that piques our curiosities. It's a whisper that echoes through our emptiness until we start to feel deprived. And then...that fig starts looking mighty, mighty good.