My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42: 2 NRSV
This is a psalm for a people in exile. The Hebrews are in Babylon and are far from Jerusalem. For them, it is if they are far from God. The Temple is where God dwells and the land is where God's promise and protection lies. The living God is in Israel. When will they get to go back? When will they see God's face? They are completely cut off from God.
This verse speaks to me in light of the story of a woman in my church. She was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. As a woman who has lived through much in her 84 years, she took the news rather calmly. However, her biggest disappointment was really when she was told that the cancer was contained and was fully operable. She says that she was actually looking forward to going to be with the Lord. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?"
I am not sure I have ever been that far away from God. I am also unsure if I have ever thirsted so hotly for the living God. Am I wanting to be with God that I would accept death gladly?
Part of me reacts to the word living God as the God who is in the here and now. Is not God's face visible right now? Is God's face only seen in death? I certainly don't believe God is only in the land of Israel or on the Temple Mount, so I shouldn't be thinking of God being available after death.
And if I don't have to wait to behold God's face, why am I not panting after God right now?
God, create in us a thirst for you, the living God. May you be seen in our lives this very day. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims