For ten years I didn’t read the Psalms. I felt like it was cheating. Everyone was always turning to the Psalms for some quick answer and it felt ‘too easy’. I told my professors that Psalms was the dessert of the Bible. I didn’t want the fluff so I was that weirdo always reading Deuteronomy.
But if you look closer, the cry of the Psalms ranges from praise to desperation. As do our lives on this side of eternity – and sometimes, when nothing else seems to resonate with the here and now, the brokenness of this present day – Psalms of lament or wisdom or Thanksgiving feel like the dinner we’ve been starving for, not the scoop of sorbet we could do without.
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.
Yesterday I stood at a worship service with my arms up, noting the themes of ‘goodness’ and ‘love’ that we cried out to God praising Him for. And yet, in the seats next to me… my arm around a friend whose brother had died from an aggressive stage 4 cancer… a woman singing to our Lord while mourning the loss of her baby… a beautiful pal whose husband left her to raise their sons alone… my own broken heart… all of us, plus so many more stories I’m not privy to all joined together in melody after melody.
And it’s right here in the Psalms where I feel understood.
David was writing from the wilderness, not from an adirondack chair on his wraparound porch.
Literally and figuratively he was in a place of ache and thirst.
Much like me and my friends.
Oh the aching and hoping and waiting and wanting.
BUT! What (or Who) was he on the lookout for?
He rose early, to seek GOD.
He looked in the sanctuary, for the power and and glory, of GOD.
And upon finding Him he was satisfied.
Tucked under the protection and nearness of our God, he rejoiced.
This Psalm doesn’t negate the ache and it also doesn’t leave us sitting inside of that ache with no hope or provision.
When hunger and thirst and longing tug on our every sense, it can be difficult to rally – but the discipline of seeking and praising gives way… and as we are helped by the One who promises to never leave or forsake, it’s then that we are held and upheld.
Some days I’m too weary from the waiting and wanting to even ask for help, much less believe it’ll come or praise Him for it. And then the hunger and thirst win and I go to bed to start another day more starved of hope.
Last night I witnessed hearts that are still hurting and still hoping choose to worship and to believe, much like David.
From the far reaches of your own wilderness, from the deserted and dejected corners of my own, will we choose to go looking for Him?