As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’ As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
Longing for God – it’s all faintly uncomfortable, isn’t it? Sometimes, we tend to be a bit wary about emotions and prefer to take the cynical view. After all, isn’t it enough to try to obey God’s commands (as best we can …) and leave the rest up to Him? Didn’t we leave all that early Christian enthusiasm behind us in our youth, and aren’t we now all far more reasonable folk?
Well, perhaps God doesn’t particularly want us to be reasonable. Perhaps, having a desperately yearning heart for God is the kind of worship He really wants, and He isn’t terribly worried about how many church services we attend or how many good works we do.
Very soon in this Psalm, we see that this yearning for God stems from despair and the memory of how things used to be. Despair is the trigger that allows the psalmist to pour out his heart to God, even though he has very little confidence that God is listening to him. But God longs for our honest emotions, however rollercoaster they might be, and always meets us at the level of our deepest need, whether or not we can comprehend it.
Somehow, the psalmist’s honest emotional outpouring brings him to a fragile place of hope where God can meet him. May it be so for us.
Dear God, give us hearts to long for You and to seek Your presence throughout all our lives and in all our circumstances. Amen.