Feasting with God #33
Thirsting for God
Text: Psalm 42:1-3
1As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
In a world which seems hell-bent on destroying anything to do with our Christian faith, the imagery of this psalm is particularly relatable. The despair we feel at the seeming victory of the godless, of this world’s prince, even of sin over our own bodies can make us fall into this deep, physical thirsting. As a deer, who runs in the chase away from its predators, wants only to stop and take a drink from a stream, we in our lives just want to rest, just want to have sanctuary before our God and to be nourished by him.
But instead, why does it so often seem that the only thing we’re able to drink is our own tears? Our own predators chase us mercilessly. They never grow tired. They never stop. We hide from them behind locked doors, only to find that they’ve already gotten inside. We run back outside, trying to find protection among friends, only to find that our predators are hidden even among those friends. Exactly how these predators attack us is said by this psalm: “They say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”
These predators don’t attack our bodies. They attack our faith. They try to create doubt in our hearts. They mock us before others so that when we can’t answer their tough questions, we become fools in the eyes of others, and suddenly it seems that it’s our fault that the faith of others starts to fail. Then we start to ask, “Where is God at these times?” We’re dying of thirst, because the nourishment of God seems absent.
But this psalm goes on:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God….
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me. (Ps. 42:5, 7)
Hope is what this psalm encourages. St. Paul has this to say about hope: “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom. 8:24-25). No, we don’t see God’s salvation at these moments. We don’t see God standing on our side. But we hope for him. This psalm talks about remembrance, how the speaker remembers how God came through for him in the past: if God helped him before, he will certainly do so again.
And with hope, even before the deliverance is seen, our thirst is quenched: even beyond what we could have imagined: the psalm speaks of God’s “waterfalls” and “breakers” and “waves.” We are not given any mere stream of water, but even simply by the hope of what God will give us, we have roaring waterfalls which echo so loudly that “deep calls to deep.”
Jesus told his followers, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33). This is the essence of hope. When we seek for God’s kingdom and righteousness, we have a sure hope that he will give them to us. This hope is sure because these things were won for us, and are freely given to us, by Jesus Christ himself who died on the cross for our unrighteousness, and rose from the dead to share with us his righteousness, and to open the gates of God’s kingdom for us. We can look back, remember that historic event, remember how God gave up his own Son for our salvation, and have that as foundation for our hope in what God will give us further on: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
So yes, we do thirst for God, but not in despair: we thirst for him in hope.
Heavenly Father, who was gracious enough to give up your Son for our salvation, we hope, we thirst, we yearn desperately for all your blessings. Deliver us from evil in this world, as you have promised. Forgive us all our sins, as you have promised. Refresh us continually with your Word, as you have promised. Bring us to our heavenly home and eternal refreshment, as you have promised. We ask it for the sake of your Son, who sacrificed all so that these things might be ours. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.