1 God! My God! It’s you—
I search for you!
My whole being thirsts for you!
My body desires you
in a dry and tired land,
no water anywhere.
2 Yes, I’ve seen you in the sanctuary;
I’ve seen your power and glory.
3 My lips praise you
because your faithful love
is better than life itself!
4 So I will bless you as long as I’m alive;
I will lift up my hands in your name.
One summer day a few years ago, I decided to take a hike and explore the Pinelands. I was ready: lunch, water, sunscreen. I wore long pants to ward off ticks and had a bandanna soaked in bug spray to keep insects off my neck. It was July – hot and humid. But I was getting an early start.
The first part of the trail was beautiful (even if buggy). My path wound through the forest, along creeks, and by tea-colored lakes full of water lilies. Later, it led me along the sandy berms of old cranberry bogs. By now, it was the hottest part of the day, and there was no shade. My water was running low. I missed the sign that said, “trail out ahead.” Or I ignored it, thinking I could surely find a way around. I wasn’t thinking clearly in the heat.
I thought I was home free. I was probably only about half a mile from my car when the trail really did run out. There was no way through unless I wanted to slog through the bog. I wasn’t doing that. Not after seeing tell-tale signs of snakes, their sideways tracks in the sand. But to go back meant another couple miles of hiking.
By now, I was THIRSTY. I mean, REALLY thirsty, like almost passing out. I was scared. I briefly contemplated scooping some of the tea-colored water out of a bog and drinking that. But I decided against it. That last mile was about the hardest walking I’d ever done. I remember getting back to the car and sitting for a while in the air conditioning, just trying to get my brain working again. Then I drove off, desperately seeking some Gatorade.
Thirst, when you’re really seized with it, is all-consuming. You can’t think about anything else. In fact, it’s really hard to think at all.
Israel is a dry place. I’m sure the original readers of this psalm knew all about that kind of thirst. They understood what it does to your mind and to your body. And so the metaphor, of THIRSTING for God, is not expressing something trivial. It’s literally talking about matters of life and death.
When was the last time your need for connection and relationship with God felt like that? What were you going through? What were you experiencing? And how did God meet you in that need?
The words of the psalms are not just poetic for the sake of being pretty. They’re expressing something that is true for humans at our core. We don’t just want God in our lives. We need God in our lives.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Think about a time when you experienced the kind of thirst described above. How would your faith be different if, as the psalmist says, your whole being thirsted for God?
Prayer: Holy God, we come seeking your face today. We know that the things we lack: peace, clarity, and compassion, can’t be found in us, but can only be found in you. Let us chase after you as people thirsting and longing for water in a dry and tired land. Amen.