Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Blessing of Thirst

Psalm 42 uses thirst as a metaphor for our longing for God’s presence. It begins, “As a deer longs for flowing streams/so my soul longs for you, O God./ My soul thirsts for God,/for the living God” (42:1-2a). Our yearning for God’s presence is a kind of thirst. Although this Psalm describes the need for God’s help in a time of distress, this desire for relationship with God can come any time.

The need for relationship is one of our most basic human needs. To have a full and fulfilling life, we need the opportunity to share life and love with others. We need to know that someone will be there for us in a time of desperate need. We also need opportunities to give love as well as to receive it. All of what I’ve written in this paragraph also applies to our relationship with God.

When a relationship is broken by alienation or estrangement, we yearn for restoration and reconciliation. This is true of our human relationships and our relationship with God.

Our need to restore a broken relationship with God is so deep and intense that the word “thirst” is appropriate. We hunger and thirst for this relationship of love, forgiveness and grace. When this critical relationship is absent from our lives, our hearts long for it even more. Our thirst for God is a blessing because it leads us to seek reconciliation, only to discover that it has already been offered to us as a gift. As it says in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

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