The first verse of Psalm 63 says, “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.”
A dry and weary land where there is no water? In February of 2022, boy does that bleak visual resonate. Two years into a global pandemic – and thirty-seven years stumbling along in this fallen world – I often find myself parched and starving, grasping for anything that might bring me a precious whiff of satisfaction.
Chalk it up to my enneagram classification (7), but I have always been the sort of person who longs for abundance. Like the Psalmist, my soul thirsts. Through different seasons of life, I’ve sought satisfaction and pleasure through things like food, wine, public praise, personal success, attention from boys, custom window treatments, exotic travel, and the list goes on. The reality is, there are many beautiful and deeply satisfying aspects of life on earth – especially here in the first world. From bacon cheeseburgers to magenta sunsets, our creator God has fashioned a world replete with splendor around every turn. But along those glittering roads, I continue to find myself stuck in the same jam: I’ve turned these fickle earthly splendors into ultimate ends.
Psalm 63 goes on to say, “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” (v5-8).
I love the idea of God himself being as satisfying as “fat and rich food.” It’s a comparison that makes sense to me when I think about the actual rush I get from dipping a salty tortilla chip into a steaming bowl of queso. The difference here is that the queso is a temporary satisfaction that, a few hours later, leaves me feeling overly full and tinged with regret. Where the rubber meets the road – when my child contracts Covid-19, when I come up short at work, when my autoimmune disease flares, and when the ordinary of my days becomes dreadful monotony – these earthly splendors don’t pack the punch I need them to. They cannot give me what I ultimately require, which is unconditional love, peace that supersedes my circumstances, and absolute and eternal rescue.
A quick search on BibleGateway will tell you that hunger and thirst are a big deal in Scripture. Since Adam and Eve walked through the gates of Eden, people have always hungered and thirsted – you don’t need me to remind you of this. But God doesn’t leave us with our bellies grumbling or our tongues stuck to the roof of our mouths; on the last day of the feast, Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37, 38).
The nature of the fall means that my hunky husband, a bowl of queso, or my nightly scoop of ice cream just cannot bear the weight of all those real and tangible needs. Only one thing can. And Psalm 63 and John 7 remind us of the delight that actually delivers – one who when we thirst, offers living water; the one who when we cling to him, upholds us with his right hand.
In February of 2022 – in this dry and weary land where there is no water – I wonder how our joy and satisfaction might be transformed if we truly believed that everything we crave, thirst for, and hunger for can be satisfied not by good health, home renovations, or international vacations, but by the God of love himself. What if we dove wholehearted into the arms of Jesus as both the source and fulfillment of all our souls’ longings?
Like the Psalmist, may we remember him upon our beds, and meditate on him in the watches of the night – may we cling to him alone – and oh, may those rivers of living water flow forth from our satiated hearts!