Image courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art
Psalm 42:1 - "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?"
RM: I think this passage really brings out how continually and deeply desperate our hearts naturally are, for being filled with meaning, and beauty, and companionship, and comfort, and adventure. In fact, it's excruciatingly painful when our hearts have nothing inside them to feed on. Just like a stomach that feels pangs when it has nothing in it.
And I think it's actually the person who is really seeking and working hard everyday to not find our satisfaction in the things of this world as his or her first level pursuit of life, though they are so beautiful and glorious and promising as secondary level pursuits, but it's that person who truly is seeking to be satisfied on a first level from only having Jesus, who feels the most schizophrenic and depressed, on a regular basis.
I remember hearing stories about how Luther (and other church history heros) was depressed to the point of being bedridden, which he would feel regularly. Well I now think that this was not some psychosis or physical malady. I now think it is a natural result of a heart that seeks to be satisfied on Christ, and yet is fallen and naturally keeps needing a fresh portion and supply of manna everyday, every hour, and the reality is that we're just not that good yet at maintaining this, because, of course, we're not yet at our final condition, when we will have the capabilities that come with having resurrected and holy hearts and bodies on a new Earth.
Therefore, the Christian life for the moment, as St. Paul says, is not easy. (2nd Tim.4:7 - life is a "fight"; Rom.8:23 - and a "groaning") It's a matter of fighting our souls each morning to let go of the temporal things that are so promising, things we long to latch on to, that seem to be the answer honestly, which we so desperately want from this world. The Christian life is a fight to let go of our trust in these things and to instead fight ourselves to go to what might honestly feel like an empty endeavor, of having to resort to and make due with the person of Jesus, whom we only connect with through these old means of prayer and Scripture and connecting with other believers in sharing, all in order to, like this poor deer in verse 1, get our hearts satisfied with the only thing that can truly satisfy our hearts, which is the power, the beauty, the embrace and the tenderness, and the adventure of the person of Christ, who is with us and living in us through his Spirit.
Let us keep being honest, like this Psalmist, about our deep longing. We deeply long for satisfaction....and comfort.....and beauty....and adventure. ...just like a deer dehydrating to death.
Go to prayer. Go to his Word. Drink. Eat. And be satisfied.