Our misery is that we thirst so little for these sublime things, and so much for the mocking trifles of time and space.
Charles H. Spurgeon
A recent sinus infection required antibiotics. I had developed a cold that performed its usual cruelty. Lingering congestion that sent me to the doctor.
After a few days of medicine, I felt better, but was parched and never seemed satisfied, regardless of forced fluids. I drank water, juice, decaf tea, even ate ice; still, my lips chapped, and my throat felt like I had swallowed a piece of sharp tin. It seemed I had reached into my cotton jar, grabbed a dozen white balls, and stuffed them in my mouth.
How relieved I was when I was well and no longer had to take the Keflex. I was happy to breathe fully, and I welcomed a full night's sleep. My severe thirst, too, was gone. My parched throat, mouth, and lips soothed, healed. The hapless cold was over and soon forgotten.
Today, however, I am reminded of the dry agony. I again feel great thirst. It is unquenchable, almost unbearable. Yet, no tap water will satisfy. No bottled water helps. No juice or other liquid relieves. For I speak of a need of unearthly water. A fountain that only flows from Jesus Christ.
I relate to the writer of Psalm 42, who spoke of his own deep need for real experience with God. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" He cried. He plead. His soul panted with thirst and need. Just as a deer desires a water brook, the psalmist craved God's presence. Weeping, yearning, his voice must have grown faint. "Oh, Lord, just let me feel you. I long to see your face, to know you are near me. With me."
But, the season was dry. The psalmist looked up to the heavens for rain, and his eyes filled with dust. His pain drove him to seek, to search, to survey his own soul, to suffer the sting of emptiness of heart and distance from his Creator. How he wanted the cleansing water of One so holy to wash the sifted, sandy soil from his life and fill his thirsty self with joyful relief.
He strained to see, to be filled, to be holy, to behold the living God. And with faith, the psalmist bore the affliction of his enemies and his separation from God's presence. And through faith, the psalmist proclaimed future outpouring that would be his. "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (v.11).
Little is known of this thirsty one who penned Psalm 42. But it does not matter that we do not know. What matters is what his words teach us about our walk with God. What matter is our ability to be one with him. What matters is our remembering Jesus' words that everyone who has deep longing for righteousness will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). What matters is that each one of us knows God actually creates thirst and hunger in our souls.
For, how can we pour out our hearts to Him if we blindly think we are full? And how can Jesus increase in us if we do not desire more of Him?
I have not always felt thirst for Him or desired more of Him as I should. There was a time in my life when I looked to a career, education, things, even ministry to fill my empty soul. I could not experience deep hunger and thirst for righteousness because I was already full of material, worldly stuff. Not evil things, not necessarily sinful things, but earthly things.
Yet, just like my failing attempts to quench my parched, antibiotic-filled body, I failed at filling my soul with ambition, impression, accomplishment, and knowledge.
Dear, dear friends, only Jesus can truly meet our needs for security, for peace, for wholeness, for identity, for acceptance, for longing to be loved. Only He who so completely understands the designs of our hearts can heal them and fill them.
Looking backward, I wonder at my silly strivings to find peace, joy, fulfillment with my own designs.
Looking inward, I now welcome the hunger and thirst that sends me to my knees and makes me cry, "Holy, holy, holy are you Lord. Do with me as you will. I am your servant. Yours alone, dear Jesus."
Looking forward, I long to open my heart, mind, soul, body, and spirit to the voice of Christ. To hear Him. To know Him. To obey Him. To do His will. To please Him. To honor and glorify Jesus' name!
Looking clearly and definitely, a closer look at physical thirst reveals its relation to spiritual need. Thirst is a God-created desire. It is a warning of a body's need. Thirst is an insistent drive, a yearning, a craving; an intense need for drink. Thirst is a God-given sign for fluid balance in our bodies. God designed our brains to detect our needs for fluid to protect us from dehydration, which left unchecked, leads to organ damage and, eventually, death.
How blessed we are to have a heavenly Father Who is so good! And this same, awesome God Who so miraculously designed our earthly bodies also designed our spiritual needs. Our thirst for Him, an intense desire to seek God's face, is our soul's way of crying out for His touch. It is the human spirit's cry and confession of the vanity of self-preservation.
And when we thrist for God, all we must do is yield. Like the hart, follow the sound of the waters. Drink in and be filled. Offer ourselves as a sacrifice of praise. Believe. Know. Lavish the satisfaction of a quenched soul..
We may not always understand the needs of our own hearts. But God does. And so, when He stirs our spirits with thirsts, our yielding is in faith and results in His satisfying presence. As we find contentment in Christ, our faith grows. As our faith grows, we please God. When God is pleased, we are blessed by Him and remembered by Him. We find life. Abundant life. And with author John Piper, we may proclaim, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
Praise God for His holy presence! Praise Him for caring and meeting our needs!
May we all continue to seek the Lord and call upon Him! He is true salvation and true liberty! Jesus Christ is my security, my peace, my hope, my identity, my acceptance, my everything.
He offered living water to a Samaritan woman over 2000 years ago. And Jesus has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And He wants to give us all His fountain of life and everlasting, abundant, life-changing joy.
If you are thirsty, seek Christ's face. You will find His heart and your own heart's desire.
"IN HIS PRESENCE IS FULLNESS OF JOY; AT HIS RIGHT HAND ARE PLEASURES FOREVERMORE" (PSALM 16:11).
All scripture references are from the NIV Bible.