As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”(Psalm 42: 1-3)
Have you ever missed someone so much that your heart seems to literally ache for them? I remember as a teenager experiencing such feelings for a certain boy during long summer vacations when I was stuck on the farm while he was off climbing the wild, icy peaks of Wyoming and Colorado.(No, it wasn’t Eric, but my pastor’s son. Eric and I wouldn’t get together for several years!)
Since his death in 2019, I have missed my dad in a way that makes the heartache I felt as a teen over this boy pale in comparison. Such a heartache of love lost dwells below the surface of my consciousness, occasionally making an unannounced appearance through tears and sorrow triggered by a memory of dad. This type of heartache has no end. And I know that I will experience this type of heartache as long as my heart beats. Testament to my deep love for my father, I guess.
Love for another person carries with it the chance of heartache and loss. But what about love for a Being that is not of flesh and blood—love for God? If love carries with it the chance of heartache and loss, how can such emotions be experienced if we believe that God is always present and will never die?
Although I have no answer for this, I have experienced heartache for God in my own life, such as when I was going through a crisis and God seemed to be absent. The words of Psalm 42 speak of such a longing and heartache for God during a time of crisis in the psalmist’s life, in which he likens it to a thirst of the soul for the waters of Life. What makes matters worse is that this person of faith is scorned by those in his life of little faith. Their snarky response to his situation, “where is your God” reminds me of the voices of those watching Jesus dying on the cross: “save yourself!”
Like an underground stream, moving below the surface of a forest floor, the underlying message of this psalm courses throughout the psalmist’s words of sorrow and heartache with words of hope; even when God seems absent from our life, prayers grounded in our faith that God is, indeed, present, offer strength to get through times of heartache: “By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”(verse 8)
A thought to leave with you—isn’t faith but an expression of God’s presence and love in your heart—a lifeline when God appears to be absent from your life?
May your faith in the God of steadfast love grow and flourish,