Daily Devotions

Thirsting After God

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"As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." - Psalm 42:1-2

The deer longs for flowing streams because a flowing stream has fresh, clean water. The deer tries not to drink from stagnant water, because it is foul. Our souls long for God, because God brings the water of life.

In the Biblical world of Palestine and throughout the Middle East, life and death depended on clean water. "Thirst" is not just a desire, but a necessity for life itself.

According to The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, "Verse 2b begins to suggest that the psalmist is exiled or at least is prevented from making a pilgrimage to the Temple to "behold the face of God." In other words, the psalmist is thirsting after God, and cannot get to the clean water.

As people of faith, we've been blessed with the gift of divine desire. When God seems distant, we notice, and long for God's intimacy to return. I feel bad for a friend who has no faith. He doesn't believe in God, but not with an atheist's fervor. He is simply "apathetic." His indifference leaves me hollow and melancholy. All passion that is not infused with the Holy Spirit, is ultimately empty.

Treat your faith with respect. God is making you thirst, and that is a gift. The thirsting calls you to the baptismal stream, where God meets you and renews your life. Do not ignore your holy thirst. It leaves you lifeless and unable to function. "Drink from the fountain of the water of life" (Rev. 21:6). When you feel the furthest from God, that very yearning is proof that God is calling you back, so you can drink in the Holy Spirit. God will never leave you thirsting for long.

Care for the Poor

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"Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble."
(Psalm 41:1)

The psalm begins as a beatitude. A "beatitude" is "a state of utmost bliss" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). For the person of faith, bliss is found in interesting ways. Bliss, or happiness, is found in caring for the poor. When God provides opportunities for you to care for the poor, God is trying to provide you with the opportunity for blissful happiness.

This is the first time the psalms uses the word "poor" and is translated elsewhere in the psalms as "weak." The way we relate to the poor and the weak, models the way we relate to God. Bliss occurs in our connectedness to the source of life, God, and in our dependence upon God.

Sometime today, pray for the poor, being as specific as possible. Mention specific ways God might use the faithful to creatively respond to the needs of the poor. Then, find a specific way this week, to tangibly help the poor. Perhaps you will volunteer at the Shelter, or CROSS Ministries. You might give money to DMARC or Family Promise. But, if you give money, give it to the organization in person, and seek to find out a little more about the organization and how they specifically provide for the poor. Then, close your prayer by thanking God for the blessings you received, and reflect on how without them, your life would have been harsh, and probably sad. Giving to those in need, is both obligation and blessing. Rejoice that you have the ability to give.

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