My Soul Thirsts for God

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Who among us would sit down and begin writing words like these? We ask ourselves what must have motivated the writer of these words to pour out the thoughts of his heart so graphically. What situation prompted such a hungering for God? Was this man in desperate straights? Verse 3 gives us some insight: “My tears have been my food day and night ...” He was in the throes of some great trial. He was fasting and praying. Obviously he was waiting for God’s help in a certain situation, and it seemed that God wasn’t answering. He must have testified that he was trusting in God for help, because people around him were taunting him scornfully: “Where is your God?” Again and again he responded by pouring out his pain and heartache to God, taking hold of his heavenly Helper by faith. We can understand a person in a difficult situation reaching out and longing for an experience with God. We may have experienced something very similar in our own life. We cried out to God in despair. We repeatedly sought His face and His presence until, to our great relief, He answered and saved us. How we rejoiced in our God and Savior! But what has happened since then? Has our desire for God increased or has it returned to a “normal” state? Are we still thirsting for God?

What Causes Thirsting for God? When we read these words of the Psalmist, we, as honest and sincere Christians, ask ourselves, “Does my hunger for God measure up to that standard? Do I thirst for God the way this man did, or the way I once did?” And then we acknowledge: “I really should apply myself more. I really should make some changes in my life so that I will thirst for God more.”

But hungering and thirsting is not something we work at to achieve. It is rather the response to a need. It is the “effect” of a “cause and effect” relationship. We become hungry when our body needs the energy it derives from food. We become thirsty when our body needs to replenish its fluids. In like manner, thirsting for God is the result of a relationship with God, a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 34:8 David wrote: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” He had obviously experienced a wonderful relationship with God, and now he was encouraging others to experience it also. His heart was full of his God and Savior, and he wanted nothing more than to serve Him and remain in His house for the rest of his life. He couldn’t help but love the Lord who had done so much for him and who was so wonderful in his eyes. Again and again he proclaims: “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3). David’s soul couldn’t get enough of God; he longed for ever more of Him. Yes, his soul thirsted for God. In Psalm 63 he writes: “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” The longing of David’s soul for God was greater than his desire for water in the middle of the desert!

Thirsting for God comes from the realization that nothing else but God can satisfy the craving of the human heart. People look for all sorts of things to distract, energize, and fulfill them. Mostly they follow the crowd around them who are looking for the same things in the world. But what about Christians? What do they look for when they are soul-weary, discouraged, and in need of rejuvenation? For example, when we take our vacation this summer, what will our goal and desire be? Will it be to get away from all our cares and responsibilities and experience the pleasures the world has to offer an affluent society? Will it be to lay down our duties in the kingdom of God for a while in hope of being refreshed by a change of scenery? Or will there be a hunger and a thirst in our hearts to use this time to get closer to God, to submerge ourselves in His Word and to bask in His presence? A rest from our activities and a change of scenery can be very beneficial in this respect, but what will the focus of our time away be? Will our thirsting for God drive us closer to Him?

Once we realize that everything else in the world but God will leave our soul dissatisfied and once we have experienced the real fulfillment He gives, we will be spoiled for everything else. We will long for more and more of Him. We will get to the point where we cannot bear being without a constant renewing of His presence in our life. We will truly hunger and thirst for God!

What Hinders Thirsting for God? Of course, Satan will try everything he can to prevent us from desiring God, and he will offer a plethora of counterfeit and diversionary measures to prevent us from doing so. He may encourage us to become embroiled in many good works and projects. He may show us what we’re missing out on in life, the things that others are enjoying and that we just have to have also! He may use misunderstandings and hurts to disillusion us in our service of God. Then there are trials, troubles, disappointments, financial worries, sickness, and many other things that dishearten us to the point that we can’t even seem to communicate with God anymore, let alone thirst for Him.

But lack of thirsting for God can come from another source also. When things have been going smoothly for a long time we can easily become complacent. God is blessing us and we don’t have a particularly urgent reason to draw close to Him. It is a sad irony that the more God blesses His people with material things, the less they hunger for Him! We just get used to His blessings and feel entitled to them. Our burning love for Him begins to diffuse into a broader, less intense, more comfortable and conforming everyday relationship. We still serve God and have no intention of ever stopping. We fit very well into the everyday ebb and flow of Christianity. But we have lost something precious! Our soul is no longer panting and thirsting for the living God. We are no longer desperate to “appear before God”, to prevail until we “pray through” into His very presence!

When a Soul Thirsts for God But what a difference when we do prevail, when our thirst for God becomes so great that we cannot stand to live without experiencing Him in a wonderful way. When we become filled with His presence and are overwhelmed by His glory! When we become “addicted” to experiencing God! When our soul’s longing and desire for God doesn’t wane and fade, but becomes greater and greater as the years go by!

This is the relationship God desires with you. Just as a young man and a young woman who have fallen in love only want to be with one another and share their thoughts and dreams every moment of their lives, so God desires to share your life. He loves you and wants you to desire Him above everything else. Ask Him to fill you with that longing for Him, so that you, too, can say: “My souls thirsts for God, for the living God.” What blessings will flow! Rivers of living water will flow from your life and bear fruit for eternity. The result will be truly beautiful to behold, and you will count yourself among the richest people on earth!

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