Do you ever battle with melancholy?
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
The writer sees himself as a young, timid doe leaping from rock to rock in the Judean wilderness moving toward one of the dried up river beds, expecting to find drink but finding nothing but dust and it pants for water.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God? Psalm 42:2
The phrase, “Living God” indicates that he thirsted for God as He really is. Not some substitute or fabrication. Anne LaMott has famously said, “You can safely assume you have created God in your own image when He hates all the same people you do.”
This psalmist says that he doesn’t want a God of his own creation. Not some pygmy god or sanctified Santa Clause or cosmic houseboy. He longed for the God that is alive—the real God.
And he is desperate. Have you ever been around a person who is desperate for God? They are a little troubling to be around. They can make you feel uncomfortable. Their passion for God stands in sharp contrast to the lethargy of your own soul. But if you get right down to it we all have exactly the amount of God with which we are comfortable.
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” Ps. 42:3
The unbelieving world mistakenly thinks that followers of God are always supposed to be upbeat and happy and when a shadow plays across our face they can mock and deride us. When they saw him down they kicked him when he was down.
Do you see the contrast here? He was panting after God but all he could taste was the salty, biting taste of his own tears as they flowed into his mouth.
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival. Ps. 42:4
The psalmist longed for earlier days when he went 3 times a year with the dense crowd of pilgrims to the worship festivals in Jerusalem. These were times of ceaseless joy and celebration. Suddenly he remembers that in the past God had been very real and present and it abated his despair. Can you remember times when God was so near that nothing was closer?
Sometimes when my soul sags I recount how God redeemed me when I was seven years old and called me into the ministry at age nine. I remember how a group of Junior High kids would meet in a choir loft in a little mountain church in Colorado every Sunday night and pray heaven down…and heaven came down. I remember my marriage being restored. I remember my oldest son blessing me at and elder installation service when he was 16. I remember when Mountain Heights Baptist Church unanimously called me to be her shepherd. I remember countless quiet moments when the Holy One would whisper in my ear that I was indeed ‘the beloved.’
There is something in the recalling of these events that lifts my soul.
Do you have memories like that? What God one day was He can be now and will be again! Long for God with a burning passion.
“Dear Jesus, I ask you to give me a hunger and thirst for you that supersedes all other passions. More than food. More than water. More than earthly love. O, God give me an unslakable thirst for you just as you are. Amen.”