“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God,
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence,
O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You
from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.” ~Psalm 42:1-8
As many of you know, I have had a very long and suffering season, battling depression and as a result, strained relationships with those I love the most. If you didn’t know that and want to hear more about it, feel free to read the last couple of blog posts.
As I have found my way out of the dark tunnel, I stumbled upon this Psalm, a Psalm I’ve read countless times before, yet now I find new meaning, personal meaning in each of it’s writer’s anguished lines… and all of it’s hopeful pleadings.
You see, the psalmist writes as one who is recalling the past, when they had a much easier time praising God, and recalls it with almost a lamentation over the fact that their soul is despairing and they do not feel the ease of worshipful joy, at the moment. They cry out to their own soul, “Why are you in despair?” and then they preach to their soul… “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” What is happening here is that they are learning, as I have been learning, how to praise Him deeper. “Deep calls to deep”. God’s depths calls to mine… “Praise me”. I am learning to praise Him from the depths of my being.
Meanwhile, I am filled with a sense of longing., as a thirst deer pants for water, my soul has been panting for God, who seemed invisible and distant (although I know that He was all along with me). I cannot pant for God if I do not periodically feel lonely from Him. What deer thirsts for water, when they are never thirsty? I have been thirsty.
I know this will not make any sense to many of you, who have yet to experience the glories of knowing Christ, but the most desperation that I’ve felt in the past year or so has not been circumstantial at all, it has been feeling distanced from Christ. When God hides Himself, I become wrecked. I’m undone. I can endure anything more than feeling distant from Christ.
Yet, with the psalmist, I’ve preached to my own soul “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” I now recognize that hope isn’t hope if it isn’t challenged. God often makes Himself so obvious to me that I believe Him more than I believe those I lay eyes on everyday. This past season He was not so obvious. So, I had to learn to hope… truly hope. And I came out believing in His goodness even more.
This season was so good for my soul. It was hard and desperate and painful and so, so good. I am a little more refined. I have longed and been satisfied.
“I waited patiently for the Lord, And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay.
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”
I share this with the tried and sorely tossed Christian. God has not forsaken you. I know it can feel desperate, and your heart may be full of longing. This is good for your soul. You belong to a different kingdom, one that lasts forever, in which there is no toil or pain, and this suffering is very, very short compared to that place to which you belong. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). This longing and desperation is not eternal. You are. Jesus is.
I share this with those who haven’t yet fallen head-over-heels for Jesus… There is one exit out of your anguish. You may not even realize your pain because you’ve lived with it your whole life. But Jesus, my friend, Jesus is the source of joy, of life, of peace. And He is so near. Cry out to Him. Ask Him to show Himself to you, He will. He is unconditional love, brilliant light , eternal joy and supernatural, incomprehensible peace. And He fills us with, and fulfills our hope.