Psalm 42: What Is Your Deepest Desire?
What is your deepest desire? What do you long for?
For many in Michigan, with our terrible roads and infrastructure, we might long for smooth, pot-hole free roads, and clean, safe water coming from our faucets. This past week, one such dream has been fulfilled for me as roads which required dodging back and forth, often driving on the left-hand side, were finally paved. We waited all summer for this promised event to occur.
The writer of Psalm 42 is longing for God. Like a deer that is tired and thirsty from being hunted longs for refreshing waters, he longs for his God. “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God.” (1) He thirsts for God – it is a physical need. Much as we need water, he needs God. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?”
He remembers a time when he joined in procession to the Temple and experienced God’s presence, “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.” (4) But now God seems far away.
He talks to himself, trying to reassure himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” (5a) He reminds himself of God’s steadfast love, “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” (8) He speaks to God who God seems far off, “I say to God, my rock; ‘Why hast thou forgotten me?’” (9a)
He ends up talking to himself again, insisting that his joy will return – “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” (11)
Moving from a Young Faith to a Mature Faith
The writer of this lament strikes me as someone who is moving from a young faith, a young love, to a deeper faith. When we first fall in love, they sky is brighter, colors more brilliant, everything is reflected in the light of that love. But we can’t remain in this state for long. We eventually come down to earth. When we first experience God’s love, the world is brighter, basking in God’s glory. But we don’t rest in this sentiment. We are called to go deeper in our faith.
The psalmist speaks to God whom he says seems far away. Sometimes God, who is nearer than our breath, seems far off. It isn’t that God has run away; rather he is calling us ever closer to him, to love him with a love that has been purified through the test of time; a love that is not dependent on consolations and warm, pleasant feelings, but that is solid and present even when we don’t feel it.
Is it the God of consolations whom we love, or the consolations of God? If it is the consolations we seek, then our love will falter when the hardships and sufferings that are part of every life appear. God didn’t even save his own son from suffering. How can we ask for more? The writer of Psalm 42 is struggling with hardships but he rises above his doubts and puts his trust in God.
What is Your Deepest Desire?
We don’t always know what our deepest desire is. Kathleen, one of the characters in my Dancing through Life series, in book seven realizes that time has almost run out on a dream she didn’t even know she has. She wasn’t aware of the desire till it struck her and demanded attention. Sometimes God calls us through our deepest desires if we are willing to listen.
Some people go through life never realizing what their deepest desire is. They never take the time to reflect on what they want most out of life but accept surface answers: money, fame, health. None of these, not even health, satisfy our deepest longings. For others, these longings may change over time, just as our dreams shift with the years.
As we grow in faith, our desire for God grows. Our God, who seems far away, is calling us to come closer. God is purifying our heart’s desire.
At the end of the day, what is your deepest desire? How is God calling to you through your dreams and desires?
This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my Dancing through Life Series. click here to sign up
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