Psalm 63:1 – O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I think I know what it means to thirst for God – to long for him – to hunger for him.
I believe there are two different circumstances in which I sense it. One is when I have been walking closely with the Lord. I feel it when I am spending much time with him in his Word, in prayer and meditation, in worship, in the reading of books by godly authors, and so on. The more I am with him, the richer my time with him, the more I discover that I want to be with him…the deeper I desire to go in my relationship with him. There is a true sense of longing or thirsting, for me, during such times.
And yet, as strange as it sounds, during those times in my life of spiritual draught and depression, I also long for him. But there’s something different about the feeling. When things are going great in my walk with the Lord, I feel like my deeper longing for him will yield great fruit. I almost expect a rich encounter with him. Yet, when I feel distant from him, though I still long for him, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever have again with him what I once had. It’s almost as though it is a “longing of despair.” Have you ever experienced that?
All of this is a perfect example of why it’s often unsafe to put too much stock in your feelings. Our feelings are fickle and they have the capacity to lead us astray. Not only that, but there are too many things that can affect our feelings: our health, our sleeping patterns, our diet, the time of day, our relationships, etc. I often treasure my feelings, but I am very aware of how unreliable they can be.
It’s when we gauge our spiritual life based on our feelings that we can get ourselves into trouble. For example, one day with the Lord may be great and you might be tempted to think that you should be canonized as a saint. Yet, another day might not be quite so good and you begin to wonder if you’re even a Christian at all.
Instead of living on that sort of spiritual roller-coaster, my counsel would be to trust in the Lord always and keep plodding along with him every day… in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse.
We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. Deuteronomy 4:29 tells us that if we look for the Lord with all of our heart and soul, we will find him. In these verses, and the countless others I could have cited, we are encouraged by the Lord himself, to seek him. His promise is that we will be rewarded by finding him. You see, he is the reward!
Feelings are great. I believe that God gave us feelings. But they too were affected by the Fall which rendered them often unreliable. Therefore, don’t put all your trust in your feelings but in the God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He alone is the One we are called to seek, thirst for, and long for. He alone is worthy of such a grand pursuit.
Grace and Truth,