As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
We’ve probably all gotten to this kind of place at some point in our lives—where it’s not so much a joyful longing for God, but an extreme sort of desperate longing for Him. The psalmist here feels far from God. His soul is downcast, and His sorrow is overwhelming. And he’s embarked upon this search because he knows God is the answer. He knows he needs God. He’s experienced in the past that help and comfort and joy in the Lord, but right now he feels like he just can’t get to Him.
There are many desires we have that we seek to fulfill selfishly. There are many things we crave for that are not essential or sometimes are not even good for us to have in our lives. There are things we long for that are not necessary. But thirst is not just a desire we have to satisfy our own pleasure. It is a built-in desire, like that deer that needs water to live and survive and is going to die without it. And so when all that is within us is deadness, we need the life-giving power of God to revive our souls. There is nothing else that can satisfy those longings within us. There is nothing else that can bring that kind of refreshment besides the fountain of living water.
It is not just any god that we can seek, but it must be the true and living God, because there is such a contrast between Him and anything else we might look for in those moments of desperation. No other could intervene in our lives and make any significant difference. When we are struggling or feeling so strongly our own weakness and lack, we just need a loving God who cares about us and wants to help. In our trials and despair, there is no other who can soothe or satisfy the way that He can.
Seeking God is about more than a process of worship or going through a ritual or having some kind of emotional experience. It’s not bowing down to something just because we have a need to acknowledge something higher than ourselves. It’s not just a method to explain the unexplainable. It is seeking something necessary for our survival, and we won’t last long without Him. God is a real and living God who works and moves and interacts with us. And in those dry seasons of life, we’re going to need something powerful to quench that thirst inside. So may we continue seeking Him, even when He feels too far away. May we go to Him and find an endless well that can fill us up to overflowing.