Have you ever been desperate?
Maybe back in high school all your friends had a date to the prom but you. In hopes to not stick out like a sore thumb, you asked someone who didn’t quite meet up to your standards. You were “desperate” for a date. Or, those of you who are addicted to that morning cup of coffee may recall how you feel when you run short of time and must go without it. As the day drags on, so do you. You are “desperate” for that pick-me-up your body is so accustomed to.
As humans, we tend to react in abnormal and unusual ways to get out of whatever predicament we are in. We carry a “whatever it takes” attitude to get what we want. Take for example those who are desperate for attention, who dress, talk, or act out of the ordinary to get noticed. Or the teenager who gives herself away because she is desperate for love and acceptance. Or the addict desperate to find the next hit. There are those who have buried themselves so deeply in debt that they cannot crawl out of the hole. They are desperate for money and make choices that could potentially destroy them and their families. There are those who feel their marriage is going no where and they are no longer “in love” with their spouse. As a result, they seek a divorce out of desperation.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? When we feel we can no longer handle the state we are in, we will do literally anything out of desperation to change our situation. Most of the time it is done with many tears and much lamenting. Whatever it takes - including sacrificing ourselves and others. Risky choices are made at desperate times.
What would happen if we were that desperate for God? What if we wanted Him as badly as that morning cup of coffee, or that prom date? What if we took the same desperate measures to seek Him, as the one seeking the divorce, or the one searching for their next drug supplier? What if we sought Him in the same ways we chased after popularity, money, and recognition? What if we fell to our knees with many tears and much lamenting? What if we made risky choices to find the presence of the almighty God? Whatever it takes.
I was drawn recently to the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter one. Hannah was one of two wives and the only one not able to conceive a child. She desperately wanted a son of her own and had to live with the constant taunts of the wife whose quiver was full. “This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her until she wept and would not eat.” (verse 7) Hannah was in the temple pouring out her heart before the Lord. The Word says that she asked God to look upon her in her misery and to remember His servant. I can picture Hannah - her eyes closed tightly, tears streaming down her cheeks, praying in her anguish. Not praying audibly, but only the motion of her lips could be observed. As her body moved in a swaying motion and with her arms lifted to the sky, Eli accused her in front of everyone that she was drunk and was making a spectacle of herself. Hannah defended her actions and replied, not so - I am just a deeply troubled woman praying here in my desperation and grief.
Hannah prayed into the void and the confusion of her situation. Despite the taunts of others and even though she was misunderstood, she cried out to God in her desperation. She cried out to the God of comfort. We can almost envision God climbing down the stairway of her grief into the deepest basement of her heart to touch and heal her. We see Hannah reaching out to God, but maybe God has reached out to Hannah first. Maybe God searches constantly for those moments of desperation where He can be the healing balm that is applied to the pain. Maybe it’s only in those desperate moments that we recognize how truly needy we are for God and His healing.
Psalm 42: 1-2 tells us, “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you, Oh God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
What do you picture? Artists tend to portray this verse by painting the picture of a deer resembling the likes of Bambi skipping through the green grassy fields and approaching a babbling brook where he will lap from the refreshing waters. Really? I don’t think this is the picture the Psalmist was trying to portray at all. I picture the creature as one who is dehydrated, skin and bones, on it’s last leg desperately searching for water in the dessert. This animal is ready to die and only water can restore his health. The deer pants, staggers, and finally collapses.
This is also a picture of our need for Christ. We are desperate without Him. We stagger around this wilderness searching for anything that will quench our thirst, but nothing satisfies. There is a yearning within each of us, a void that must be filled and God is the only one who can fill it. Just like the deer pants for the water, as it roams through the dessert searching, it is so with mankind. We may not want to admit it, but without God our lives are meaningless and all our endeavors of fame and fortune are just a chase after the wind.
What does it mean to be desperate for God? It means that following Him will at times require tears and lamenting. It means acting in obedience even when it’s an unpopular decision and despite the ridicule of others. It means reacting in abnormal and unusual ways according to the standards of this world. It means sacrificing time, energy and pride to fall on our faces before Him. It means diving into the Word of God to find the answers to life’s questions and being content when those answers cannot be found. It means fervent prayer, being desperate for God to heal our marriages, our relationships, our finances, our addictions. At times, it means giving up the very things we treasure. It means giving up self and looking to the needs of others. It means realizing that He is the only One who can quench our thirst.
It means an endless pursuit of Christ on a daily basis.
After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.