Week 2 of Advent | Larkin Briley
Saturday, December 15
The initial thrust in verses 1-2 of Psalm 42 is powerful:
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? (Psalm 42.1-2 NRSV)
There is agony in this text. In church culture we have romanticized these verses to the point of slapping them on coffee mugs and t-shirts with a cute deer on the front. In reality, there is unbelievable unrest in these verses. If we think about this picture more deeply, we see the depth of his longing. Picture a starving to death, dehydrated animal thirsting for water, stumbling along through a forest in the hot sun. The writer is saying that in the same way this animal gasps for water, so his heart and soul gasp for the presence of the living God.
If you have ever been in an argument with your own soul, you understand where the writer of the text is coming from. If you have ever theologically or biblically known the answers, but your heart is telling you, “Don’t believe it!” then you can relate to this text very well. It is essentially an argument between his heart and his mind. You can almost hear the writer screaming out at the foot of his bed, trying to muster up words to pray: “Why are you cast down, O my soul?! Why are you at turmoil within me?! Hope in God! Trust in God!”
You can hear the desperation in his tone. He is not at the place of intimacy with God that he desires to be, but he intensely desires it. This theme of longing is found all throughout the Scriptures. Countless Christians in history have been painfully desperate for the power and presence of God to be richly present in their lives in the midst of pain and struggle.
But what does this have to do with Christmas? Everything. You see, Jesus coming to the earth has brought hope and salvation to all! This is no ordinary season. It is one to remember the great gift that God has given us in His Son, Jesus, and cry out with the psalmist to our souls, “Hope in God! For I shall praise Him, my salvation and my God.” So I encourage you this Christmas season, no matter your circumstances, to continually cry out with great longing to our God who has come in Jesus Christ for the living water that will satisfy your thirst.
Senior, Religion and the Arts Major
To download a digital copy of the 2012 Advent Guide, put out by Belmont’s School of Religion, click here.