(4) Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
(5) hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
(6) Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
(7) He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
(8) Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
(9) For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
There have been times in my life that I felt I was in a desert wilderness, all alone and could not find any "resting place" or peace with God. The desert wastes of the soul are every bit as parching as those of the physical world. What a perfect illustration of a soul that is longing for life, freedom, fulfillment, and love...all the things that make a soul satisfied. Without them, we are like one who has been walking through a hot dessert with no food or water and the heat of the sun beating down on us. We are needy creatures. We are in a place of longing that only grows greater and greater as we continue to walk in this wilderness. For the non-believer there is no satisfaction though he try to find it in more of the world's experiences, in things and in people. Three things the world tries to satisfy that longing with are "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). Yet they are never satisfied. Whatever riches or satisfaction they may acquire can be taken from them in a moment and their life is gone. How sad to settle for that momentary gratification, rather than an eternal satisfaction that will never be taken from us.
Yet even Christians don't realize that the trials in life that God allows us to go through - the wilderness times of our lives that seem to cause our souls to hunger and thirst are because we have gotten distracted from, or have not understood the life that the Lord is wanting to give us and is calling us to. We have tried to be content with some life we can make for ourselves here that makes us at least somewhat happy and comfortable. When trouble comes and plunges us into despair and we lose our happy place in this world, we begin longing for things the way they were in better times. But God doesn't want us to have things as they were or the meager life we want to make for ourselves. He is seeking so much more for us, and knows that until we lose what we have, or are in desperate circumstances beyond ourselves, we won't really see what we need to long for - for what He has for us - we won't ask for it or find it.
Say not, "Why were the former days better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
From The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon, on Psalm 107:9:
The Lord sets us longing and then completely satisfies us. That longing leads us into solitude, separation, thirst, faintness, and self-despair, and all these conduct us to prayer, faith, divine guidance, satisfying of the soul's thirst, and rest: the good hand of the Lord is to be seen in the whole process and in the divine result. “And filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
Self-despair is a good thing if it takes our dependence off from ourselves and places it in God. Don't look back longing for the old days. Don't look back to times that were better or for what you once could do or make for yourself. Look forward for the Lord to fill your longing soul with His goodness. This is what He wants for you. The best is yet to come. He has something far better ahead than what you had. If what you had were perfect He would have left you there. He does not find pleasure in disciplining His children, but loves us enough to do it, and to take us from what we would otherwise hold onto, into something much deeper, richer, and far better. We are "His workmanship in Christ Jesus." If we are His, we are not our own. We came to Him for life, and that life must have its way in us. It is for our ultimate goodness, His goodness filling us, that we are going through the wilderness of this life.
If you are in a place of longing for better days, thank God! Don't waste it by longing for something in this world, but turn your heart to prayer and separation unto Him, realizing the longing is so that you will cry out for HIS filling and satisfaction. When that place is found in His satisfaction of the soul, we realize that no circumstance on this earth, good or bad, could ever take its place. One day the whole earth will be filled with His glory. That is hard to realize or grasp right now when we see it filled with terror, hate, lies, and violence. Evil and immorality and anti-God hostility grows and abounds and becomes more blatant and "in your face" all the time. But in the midst of that, God's goodness is contrasted all the more. This causes us to feel as though we were in a dessert, longing for His goodness and righteousness. It separates us from the world and drives our hearts to seek Him more to be filled with that goodness of the Lord, to satisfy our souls and to feed others looking for Him as well. It causes us to see how much more we need to abide in Him daily drawing our very life from Him, depending on His life in us. It causes us to hunger and thirst for righteousness and in that, He promises it will be filled. God's intent for us is always so much higher than our own pursuits and our own goals and desires. If only we would seek His face to know and understand, and trust His hand. Our stay in the wilderness would be much shorter. Faith is what enables us to draw from His well and drink freely and eat our fill at His table. As soon as our hearts turn in faith to His purposes and draw from His Word, we begin to find our longing souls being filled. But if our hearts continue trying to satisfy that longing with this world's provisions, we waste it all.
He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. (Psalms 107:7)
When we call to Him we find He has "a straight way" that leads to His dwelling place. It is the right way, the way of truth, of grace through faith, and of obedience. It is His way that is the straight way, not mixed with our own way, but it is our way given up entirely to His. In the surrender of our will in faith, we find He will lead us in His straight way to the place for our souls to dwell in peace and joy and rest. There we have a "habitation" in His presence that we find secure. We do much to find the right habitation for our bodies to be in rest, but we don't realize the habitation for our souls is really where we find that rest in security when we find it in Him. Of course our bodies need care in order to live. We need shelter, we need rest, we need food and drink, etc. But even as we feel the lack of these it should be a reminder of the lack in our soul and the need there. God knows our needs. If we seek first His kingdom, He says all these things will be taken care of.
(26) Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
(27) And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
(28) And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
(29) yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
(30) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
(31) Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
(32) For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
(33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(34) "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Our true longing is the longing of the soul. It is a longing for God Himself and the fellowship He longs to have with us. If we don't recognize it we'll never have it filled. We'll continue longing. May the Lord teach us to turn our longings into springs of living water found in Him. "Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord." Fill us with Yourself, dear Lord, and teach us to satisfy ourselves always in You.
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