Thirsting for God
By Dennis Edwards
I was reading Psalm 102 and came across the phrase: “I am like a pelican of the wilderness.”1 It led me to wonder what exactly the psalmist meant.
It brought to my mind a wildlife documentary of Africa that I once watched. The documentary showed how after the heavy spring downfall, a lake would be created in what had been a semi-arid wilderness. The parent pelicans would come, nest, and rear their young along the newly created lake. But over the course of the summer, the lake would slowly start to dry up. The adult pelicans would eventually fly away with the young pelicans that were old enough to fly. However, those pelicans which were last to be born and still not so sure about flight would stay by the diminishing lake. Eventually they would die as the lake turned to desert or wilderness once again.
The author in the psalm may be seen as painting a picture of his desperation for God; like a dying pelican in desperate need of water and rescue, so do we look to God for help in the time of great affliction and distress.
The passage reminds me of another psalm which says, “As the hart [deer] pants after the water brook, so pants my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsts 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?”2 We see the author, who most scholars believe was Israel's King David, comparing his desire and need for God to a deer who is panting in its search for a watery brook to drink from. We need God’s presence in our lives. We need His Spirit within us to bring us happiness and to fill that aching void in our heart which He has made for Himself alone to fill.
To the one searching for God’s presence, the Lord says, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”3Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “They which do hunger and thirst after righteousness … shall be filled.”4
In Psalm 42, the author keeps repeating how his soul is cast down. He says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why are thou disquieted in me?” 5 Though the author of the psalm is feeling that dryness of spirit, he does not stay there. He calls out to God for His mercy and help. He reminds God of His promises to His children. He says, “All thy waves and billows are gone over me.”6 Here he sounds like he feels like a drowning man going down for the last time. But he continues with, “Yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”7 He reminds God of His loving kindness and he keeps God’s Word as his song and prayer in the night season.
Finally, he reminds himself to not lose his hope in God and finishes his song with “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”8 Please do not lose hope in God if you are feeling down and out and with no sunrise on the horizon. God loves you and will work things out as He always has before. Do not lose hope! Call upon Him with all your heart. He is not far from any of us, as the apostle Paul so wisely put it: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”9
Lift up your hands in praise unto Him, the God of all flesh. He loves you and is going to take care of you somehow. Trust Him. Meditate on His promises, and His Word will be “a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path.”10 For “the path of the just is like a shining light that shines more and more until that perfect day.”11 Or as Apostle Peter expressed it, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day star arise in your hearts”12 and your heart and mind are illuminated by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And remember what C. S. Lewis wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Or as the author of Hebrews has written, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.”13
Keep desiring and thirsting for God, and He'll do His part to prepare a place for you.14
When the long day is over and the journey is done,
I shall rest in that blessed abode.
And the One that I love shall be waiting for me,
when I come to the end of life's road.15
1 Psalm 102:6. Scriptures from the KJV unless otherwise noted.
2 Psalm 42:1–3.
3 Jeremiah 29:13.
4 Matthew 5:6.
5 Psalm 42:5, 11.
6 Psalm 42:7.
7 Psalm 42:8.
8 Psalm 42:11.
9 Acts 17:27–28 NIV.
10 Psalm 119:105.
11 Proverbs 4:18.
12 2 Peter 1:19.
13 Hebrews 11:16.
14 John 14:2: “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
15 From the song “At the End of the Road” by A. H. Ackley.