Working for a disaster response ministry, I often find myself being humbled by the stories of the people we serve around the world.
Right now in several East African countries, families just like yours and mine are hungry and thirsty. Drought conditions have afflicted many for months upon months. It is dry to say the least. These brothers and sisters understand hunger and thirst much differently and more seriously than I do.
Throughout the Scriptures, hunger and thirst are used as metaphors for the type of disposition we ought to have for God's presence in our lives. I'm afraid I do not yet fully understand the gravity of this in my relationship with Him.
In one of King David's many songs, Psalm 63:1-8, we find these words:
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me."
I am humbled by these words. David's heart truly longs for God in a spectacular, deep, intimate way. He uses the metaphor of thirst to describe his longing and seeking. It's beautiful. I've never been truly thirsty, though. I bet that our brothers and sisters in Eastern Africa understand David's metaphor to its fullest extent.
What does it mean to be thirsty for God? David later uses the metaphor of hunger, or the relief of it, to describe his soul's satisfaction in God alone. It's also beautiful. I've never been truly hungry, though. I bet our brothers and sisters in Eastern Africa also understand this metaphor to its fullest extent.
I may not understand these metaphors personally, but I can at least empathize with them. Deep in my soul, I do have an identifiable longing or seeking for my Creator. It's definitely there, but I worry it is not strong or desperate enough on some days.
I find myself easily distracted during times of prayer, easily annoyed by people in my life, and easily satisfied (or so I think) with things other than Christ. These are each indicators that my longing for Him is not quite to the depth of hunger and thirst yet. A hungry man will do absolutely anything to find food. A thirsty woman will do absolutely anything to find water. Nothing can get in the way, nothing can stop him or her from finding that which they so desperately need. Is this really how we approach God?
Perhaps my lack of understanding is partially due to the culture I grew up in, one of relative wealth and comfort. It is easy to fall for the illusion that everything is fine, that I don't need God. This is a dangerous lie to believe! I pray that as I continue in the sanctification process, walking with Jesus, I will all the more aptly realize how much I truly need Him.
I am weak, and this is okay. Perhaps the only thing I can confidently say that I "know" is that I don't know much at all. This is also okay, because as we read in the last line of the Psalm above, God's "right hand upholds me." He welcomes us to cling to Him like an infant clings to its mother's chest. He is our strength. He is our source of knowledge. He is our life.
When we seek and long for God's presence with the intensity and desperation of hunger and thirst, God is glorified. In a sense, He receives massive glory in our admittance of our incredible need for Him. What a gorgeous truth! Instead of being annoyed by our need of Him, He is glorified. It is God's joy to love us and provide for us and guide us in our efforts to be more like Jesus.
I pray that this Psalm, and the stories of our brothers and sisters in East Africa, may humble you and propel you towards a deeper hunger and thirst for God in your life today.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES