A blog by Josh Humbert
How much would you pay to be able to breeze right through airport security? What dollar amount would be worth it for you to not have to wait in those long lines, to untie the shoes, undo your belt, empty your pockets, do the hokey-pokey, turn yourself around, and get through that checkpoint?
I came across an interesting option called Clear that is already in 12 US airports with more coming (and even showing up at MLB stadiums too). Clear is a paid service that allows you to bypass all the waiting and work of the normal security line, get processed quickly, and get on your way. They advertise you will “clear security in less than 5 minutes.”
I have to say, I find the idea of Clear extremely appealing.
But…what if the airport security line does have value, in spite of our disdain for it? What if…somehow….there is something worth it in all that waiting?
What if enduring the delays and hassles can actually teach us how to not die of thirst?
Psalm 42 lays bare what it means to be spiritually thirsty. The author holds nothing back. Here, there is no filter or putting on a good front. These are the desperate words of a desperate person. Read and hear the soul-thirst of Psalm 42:
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God; when shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of my enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the Help of my countenance and my God.
I’ve been studying and memorizing this psalm for an upcoming message and while I can’t post my whole sermon here, I want to highlight a few things.
First, as noted above, this psalm is helpful because of how brutally honest it is. There is no sugar-coating here. This means a great deal to me because when I walk through my own spiritual dryness and deserts, I have a language for my prayer. I have confidence that God is big enough and strong enough to hear these kinds of prayers, for He has included them in His Word.
Second, take note of the beautiful collisions of opposites throughout the prayer:
The honesty and the poetic beauty of this psalm give great resources for any who are suffering in a similar fashion. In darkness? Come hang out here. In despair? Linger over Psalm 42. It is a remarkable chapter in God’s Word.
Furthermore, psalm 42 does something altogether unique and different — it waits in line with you.
Sometimes, there is enormous value of “waiting” in the lines of adversity. Yes, when God’s breakers crash over us and we start to face suffering, it can be so natural to cry out for a quick deliverance. We tend to want God to escort us to the Clear station and bypass us beyond the pain of life.
Sadly, there’s an entire line of incredibly false teaching that says this is exactly what God is supposed to do: keep us healthy, wealthy, wise, and living our “best life now.” If we just “believe enough,” God is somehow obligated to come get us out of the miserable line of pain and we can “bypass suffering in 5 minutes or less.”
Hey, that’s absolute garbage and it has zero basis in Scripture. In fact, Scripture is filled with many who had to wait on the Lord in very hard circumstances. Some phenomenal parts of the Bible are written by people facing incredible and excruciating suffering. God does some of the best work in the midst of suffering.
Some phony tries to tell me that I just pay a fee then God is somehow in my debt and He will only bring material prosperity in my life? Give me a break. Instead, what’s true and real is psalm 42.
Do you see a neat and tidy solution here? Do you hear a man who has found all the answers he is searching for? Or do you hear real life? Do you hear someone who is facing tension between what he knows and what he doubts? Do you hear someone still trying to add it all up while in the furnace of affliction?
See, Psalm 42 WAITS in line with you. It lingers in adversity with you. Psalm 42 has been there, it knows what you are facing.
It doesn’t offer “3 simple steps” or any trite answers. It doesn’t settle for cheap explanations or corny cliches. It doesn’t give you empty philosophies or some goofy formula you need to follow.
Psalm 42 gives you room to think. Psalm 42 gives you permission to be authentic. It pulls up a chair with you. It teaches you how to not die of thirst.
In the Marvel comics, Iron Man and a few others end up creating a prison called “Project 42.” Minor spoiler alert — Project 42 will most likely play a role in the upcoming “Captain America: Civil War” movie. The prison is massive and built in something called the Negative Zone.
Interestingly enough, pain and suffering can often feel just like a massive prison with no escape. The author of Psalm 42 felt like he was in his own Project 42. Trapped, hurting, thirsty, and waiting for rescue.
Here’s a what-if to consider: What if God had rescued the psalmist right away? Or what if God had never allowed the psalmist to experience that suffering at all? What if God completely prevented the psalmist from experiencing that Project 42 prison of pain in the negative zone?
That means Psalm 42 never is never composed. That means Psalm 42 is not created and that chapter would be missing from the Bible. That means that millions of Christians throughout the ages would have been denied the comfort, hope, and help of that chapter.
Though it caused heartache and pain for him for that season of his life to keep waiting on God…we can, though it seems weird to say, be thankful God did not rescue the psalmist right away all those years ago. There has been enormous fruit that many have enjoyed which came from a man fighting despair as he waited on God.
Nothing is wasted with God. Even (and especially) in our times of waiting. Sure, the waiting can seem endless, our pockets can feel emptied, we can feel completely searched and turned around, and we can see others who seem to bypass it all…but nothing is wasted with God.
By the end of his prayer, not much has been solved in Psalm 42, at least on the surface. His oppressors are still mocking him, the waves haven’t ceased crashing on him, and he still feels in despair. The chapter doesn’t wrap it all up neatly like some rerun of Full House.
However, we see glimpses of the Solution throughout, and while most will be addressed in my sermon, I want to point out one in particular for us here.
Psalm 42 has 11 verses and roughly 9 questions are asked. The psalmist is thirsty for God, thirsty for help, and thirsty for knowledge. Nonetheless, amidst all the questions, doubts, tears, and cries…we see something better. The psalmist speaks to or about God 13 times. More than the verses and more than the questions, even more than the times he speaks to himself (6 times to his soul)….the psalmist CONTINUALLY makes this about God.
In verse 2, we see these great words: “My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God; when shall I come and appear before God?”
This is the wonderful lesson he has learned in the midst of all his suffering and waiting. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. And YOURS does too!
That is a monumental truth that is rarely grasped during times of great increase and prosperity. Your soul THIRSTS for God. Everyone’s soul thirsts for God. He is the only One who satisfies.
You are a living being and you will not be satisfied with nonliving things. Your soul doesn’t thirst for money — you may desire it and you may think it’ll quench your thirst, but it’s not alive. It can’t satisfy.
Your soul doesn’t thirst for fame or achievement. You may want those things but they aren’t alive. They don’t hold the keys to the prison.
Your soul doesn’t thirst for religion, philosophies or nice teachings from decent men now dead in their graves. Facts, principles, and rules are not the cool oasis in the midst of the desert.
Your soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. He is the One who has the power over Project 42. He is the One who brings good things out of prisons of pain. He is the One who died so that He might conquer death forever. He is the only Living God.
Jesus is the One who didn’t bypass suffering. No other religious or non-religious leader did it like this.
See, Jesus is the One who didn’t choose Clear, He chose the Cross. He went through the ultimate checkpoint: the holy justice of the Righteous God. He was thoroughly examined by the Father and no sin or deceit was found in Him. He was stripped not merely of clothes but of all decency and dignity. He wasn’t X-rayed, but He was hung from a cross; where we get our word “excruciating.” He waited. He endured. He faced the deepest, darkest prison imaginable.
And just like He repeatedly and boldly predicted, He rose from death three days later. Victorious. Triumphant. Out of the worst, He brought the best. He is the LIVING God, and anyone else or anything else is a pretender.
Your soul thirsts for Him. Your soul thirsts for the One and Only Living God.
The Sing Team did a treatment of Psalm 42 for their (incredibly underrated) EP “Oh! Great Is Our God!” Their take on Psalm 42 is a magnificent song called “Satisfied in You.” I don’t have the words to say it properly but just know this song has my strongest recommendation possible.
Are you facing a waiting time? Are you in a season of pain and confusion? Are you waiting on resolution?
Are you thirsty for the Living God? Start here.
“Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about Your faithfulness. Let my pain reveal Your glory as my only real rest. Let my losses show me all I truly have is YOU. Cuz I all truly have is YOU.”
That’s the stuff that waits with you.
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