I would like to thank Crosswalk.com for their kind permission in letting me reprint the below devotional written by Selwyn Hughes.
The desire for God
For reading & meditation: Psalms 42:1-11
"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God '" (v.2)
Yesterday we looked at the words: "Whom have I in heaven but you?" Now we examine the second part of that text: "And earth has nothing I desire besides you" (Psa. 73:25b). Personally, I find these some of the most enchanting words in the whole of the Old Testament. The first part of the verse is put in a negative, and the second in a positive form. Having looked around and seen that there is no satisfying substitute for the Almighty, the psalmist goes on to make the positive assertion that from the bottom of his heart he desires to know God. He has come to see (so I believe) that it is more important to desire God for who He is than for what He does or what He gives. In a sense, the psalmist's entire problem arose out of the fact that he had put what God gives in the place of God Himself. The ungodly were having a good time while he was having a bad time. Why was he having to suffer like this? His trouble was that he had become more interested in the things God gives than in God Himself, and when he didn't have the things he wanted, he began to doubt God's love. Now, however, he has come to the place where he desires God for Himself. The ultimate test of the Christian life is whether we desire God for Himself or for what He gives. Each one of us must ask ourselves: "Do I desire God more than forgiveness? More than release from my problems? More than healing of my condition? More than gifts and abilities?" How tragic that our prayers can be full of pleadings that show, when they are examined, that we are more interested in enjoying God's blessings than we are in enjoying God.
O Father, forgive me that so often I am concerned more with Your gifts than I am with You - the Giver. Help me to long after You, not because of what You give me, but because of who You are. In Jesus' Name I ask it Amen.
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From my diary, 10th April 1990, during my first major depressive disorder episode
I see others who live and prosper,
and yet here I am, stuck in this dark prison cell.
Jesus, where are You?
Please see my circumstances and hear my prayer.
Why do You remain silent?
It makes it look like You don’t care,
I have noticed that when Christians undergo trials and tribulations, such as depression, they may become caught up on the issue that God does not appear to hear or answer their fervent prayers for help. As a result, they may become frustrated and disappointed, or even bitter and angry with God, and in some cases, lose faith in Him and believe He no longer loves them. They may even become depressed as a result.
In the above devotional by Selwyn Hughes, he shows us the underlying problem in our thinking that causes such harmful reactions in us when our prayers for relief from suffering are not answered. Selwyn writes this about the Psalmist - ‘His trouble was that he had become more interested in the things God gives than in God Himself, and when he didn't have the things he wanted, began to doubt God's love.’ Finally, the Psalmist ‘came to the place where he desires God for Himself.’
Even if we had nothing else, even if all our prayers went unanswered, even if we suffered until the day we died, to have Jesus - to have the incomparable riches and wonder of knowing Him, our loving Lord and God, is enough. Selwyn Hughes writes - ‘The ultimate test of the Christian life is whether we desire God for Himself or for what He gives.’ And when we desire God for Himself instead of for what He gives, our perspective on life changes completely. Rather than getting frustrated, angry, bitter and disillusioned when prayers are not being answered, we still have inner peace and joy because we have God Himself, and He will never leave us. 'Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.' Joshua 1:9
I would like to encourage every Christian to ask themselves in which category they fall, and if in the latter, to hunger and thirst for Jesus and make knowing Him their greatest desire.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8