“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God” (Psalms 42:2, ESV)?
Have you ever wanted something so completely that getting it meant more to you than eating or drinking? I certainly have. The anticipation is almost painful! I am admittedly OCD to begin with, but I’m sure you’ve been there too.
Maybe it was a new bike, a MacBook Pro, or a certain guitar (guilty, guilty, and guilty!). Maybe it was a new car, a better job, a certain boy or girl to be your boy or girl. Whatever it was, you wanted it with your entire being.
The Sons of Korah were at an all-time low. Things just weren’t going right for them. They had gone from being worship leaders to men oppressed by their enemies. To make matters worse, they were being taunted without a response from God.
While their prayers went unanswered, they thought about times past. The jeers of their oppressors were louder than the voice of God, it seemed. Psalm 42 is about that difficult time. It starts out as a prayer, but quickly morphs into a response to their own thoughts.
In their song, they recount their current difficulties and respond with a recollection of the past times when things weren’t so difficult, and it was easy to praise and worship. They remind themselves of the goodness of God and that they will once again find their hope in Him.
I see two obvious lessons in this Psalm. The first is that when times are difficult, we remember.
I’m sure that we can all remember at least one time when we were on cloud nine in our walk with God. We felt close to Him. Our hearts and minds were at peace. It seemed so easy to follow Him. And truthfully, our outward situations may not have been all that different, but instead of finding ourselves broken, we found times of refreshing from the Lord.
God never promised that we would walk in a magic bubble that protected us from the hard realities of life and bathed us in His radiant glory. But He did tell us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).
Our remembrance of those times when we felt closest to God are particularly useful in those times when we feel as though God is keeping us at arm’s length. He is not, of course, but He surrounds us and in-fills us.
Sometimes we feel His presence; sometimes we don’t. Faith is not a feeling! So in those times when we feel nothing, it is important that we remind ourselves of the times we did feel, and remind ourselves that feelings come and go, but “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25, ESV).
This brings us to the second lesson, which isn’t, perhaps, quite as obvious. It involves a longing for God. I suppose it could be compared to an addiction—without the negative connotations.
Have you ever tried fasting for a full-day—or more!—to spend your meal time seeking God. The first day is hard enough, but when you roll out of bed the second and third day your stomach is screaming for food. It is this deep desire that we want to have toward God—whether we feel His presence or not.
You see, when we hunger and thirst for God—not just for what He can give us or make us feel—we are making Him our priority. And He should always be our priority. And it is that hunger and thirst which will sustain us through times of difficulty and elate us in times or rest.
Blessings on your weekend! I hope to start the new format a week early, so keep an eye out on Monday!