“My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
As the deer 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?
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?”
In Psalm 42, David describes himself as panting, literally yearning after God. To ‘pant’ is defined as “a palpitation of the heart; to throb violently from strong emotions as in anxious desire or suspense. To long; to desire ardently.”
Okay, pals… extra special glimpse into my life. I’m sure you’re thrilled. 🙂 Lately I’ve been changing many of my eating habits. I’ve completely cut out sugar, avoided processed foods like they’re the plague, and am actively seeking to relearn my hunger signals. It’s simple: eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full. Not perfect at this, my people, but I’m getting better. All this “defining my hunger/fullness boundaries” has me thinking over the many years I’ve spent somewhat disregarding them. Not literally, but just never really thinking about the process that goes along with it.
It’s funny how random daily occurrences are able to take us back to our relationship with Christ. So let’s dig in… When was the last time you were truly hungry or desperately thirsty? We’re talking those moments when you need some MAJOR H2O. This may just be me, but remember those high school moments when you’d been practicing for hours, and finally get a chance to slam down a bottle of water? Ahhhh just the best feeling to finally have that cool liquid quench your thirst! It’s weird to talk about, because it’s a bit like breathing. You don’t really think about it until it’s brought to your attention. So humor me here, and really think about it. There is a hunger and thirst mechanism that has been built into our physiological make-up that literally serves as a reminder that we have to eat. Do you realize that if we didn’t have this indicator within us, we would most likely starve? Weird.
It is the pain of not having our hunger satisfied that urges us to eat. I’m going to geek-out here for a moment as the nurse in me attempts to bust a move. This physiological process, at its most basic level can be described as glucose levels in the blood dropping below a certain point. A little alarm bell then dings, suggesting that you need to eat something. This feeling can be described as a light burning in the pit of your stomach, which then turns into a growl. But what happens when these alarm bells aren’t heeded? Good question! Answer –> your body has to gain sustenance from somewhere. When you ignore the urging of your body to eat, your system, for lack of better terms, basically then takes a meal off your hips. That’s why your stomach stops growling after ten to fifteen minutes. But there’s a reason why this can be a big problem. If you continually ignore the urging of your body to eat, you will use up all your “nutritional stores” and begin to starve to death.
My question to you is this… where do you gain your satisfaction from? (And pretty sure I need this post more than ANY of us. So when I say “you” I kinda sorta maybe mean “me”.) When your soul begins to hunger and thirst, and you feel the need for nourishment… where do you go to be filled? You see, we know that Jesus is meant to be our first turn, but because of our daily schedules, our desire to have earthly love, distractions with entertainment, media, etc (AND job, sleep, family, school), we often ignore the burning within our soul that reminds us of our need for Him. Let’s just be honest. I seriously have so many great intentions. “Oh, I’ll eat later when I have more time.” Or worse yet, how often do we depend on previous “spiritual experiences” to sustain us? This hits me hard, because when you’re in ministry, it’s easier than you think to coast off of recent spiritual highs. How often do we believe the lie that because we “work in the food industry” that we don’t have to actually stop to eat something?
Ever had those moments when you think “Why am I not hungry for God? Prayer… reading my bible. It is the LAST thing I want to do right now.” Been there? Yeah, me too. When we continually ignore that “growl” within our souls, pretty soon, the burning begins to quiet, because it finds its nourishment from somewhere else. The sad thing is, we believe that kind of nourishment is sufficient. We believe we can continue to operate that way while experiencing no spiritual death. This really hits home for me lately because I have a nourishment problem. I can just imagine us sitting around in a circle, all AA-esk where I stand up and say,
“Hi everyone, my name is Tiffany.”
“Hi Tiffany.” (Think Nemo.)
“Well, I’m here today because I have a Netflix problem.”
Everyone stares, aghast!
“I know, right? Confession time. Sometimes, I feel so exhausted and wiped out from my schedule that it’s the only place I really have to wind down. I want it more than prayer, more than scripture. I look forward to it. Want to relax. It’s a place where I find rest. But here’s the thing… I think it’s slowly killing me.”
When we ignore that alarm bell for long enough, and realize that the hunger is “quieted” even without actually “eating”, we start to think we can get along fine without it. And slowly, but surely, we begin to spiritually starve to death. Until we recognize that the state of our souls can only be restored and healed by the Bread of Life alone, we will never be as we are meant to be: healthy, robust, and full of life. David recognized that his only option was God and God alone. He longed for him with such intensity, with such an anxious desire that he says “my tears have been my meat day and night”. Are we at such a place? Job 23:12 says, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Do we hunger and thirst after God in such a way? Or do we find our desires fulfilled in something else?
May the reality of our souls be to earnestly echo the words of Asaph in Psalm 73. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”
In the words of the great hymn writer:
Pass me not, O gentle Savior – hear my humble cry! While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. Thou the spring of all my comfort, more than life to me! Whom have I on earth beside thee? Whom in heaven but thee?
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” -Matthew 5:6