"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1).  Why does the soul thirst for God?  Although there are several answers to that question, the soul of man has the inclination to worship.  Those without the spirit of God create idols to worship.  Those with the spirit of God worship Him in spirit and truth.  With or without the spirit of God, every human being craves to worship something.  Having lived among the human race for the past sixty five years, I conclude that all of us humans worship self to a greater or lesser degree.  We either try to look good or feel good.  If we fail we try to invent a god that will make us look good or feel good.  If good is a non-moral concept then everyone is relatively good.  However if good is used in the moral sense, then God alone is good (Mark 10:17).

Over the past twenty years, I have devoted considerable time and effort researching the church growth movement in the evangelical church.  This research project revealed the effect of modernity in the life of the church.  The inquiry left me in a desert of despair.  The influence of culture on the church caused me feel empty in the face of reality.  My feeling was like being in a desert without any water.  It was just a mirage.  The thirst for an intimate relationship with the Lord was not merely a feeling, it was real.  Are you thirsting after God?  Are you looking for a cool stream in the desert of despair?  Go to God because He alone is good and He is able to satisfy your thirst.

"I've been saved, sanctified, and satisfied" is a tongue and cheek aphorism used to describe a professing Christian who has no thirst for God.  I am thankful that salvation is a gift from God and that sanctification is a work of God's grace in my life, but I never achieved satisfaction.  There have been times in my Christian experience when I wanted to believe that my soul was satisfied, but I knew better.  The church growth movement did not satisfy my soul.  I investigated the emotional fervor of the charismatic movement, the higher life of the keswick movement, and the legalistic pietism so often practiced among alleged conservative churches.  I attempted to satisfy my soul by doing something rather than seeking the true and living God.  Through the hills and valleys and by the grace of God, my thirsty soul found satisfactions in the truth and the perfections of God.  The soul that feels empty and deserted must drink from the pool of God's peace, probity, and people.
One of the least discussed biblical doctrines of our time is total depravity.  We simply ignore the doctrine that teaches human beings are born in sin.  The sin affects the mind, emotions, will, soul, and body.  God is sinless and hates sin.  The outcome is war.  Yes, man and God are at war and the only solution is a peace treaty.  The peace treaty goes into effect when God grants new life, new spiritual life, to the soul of man.  As the apostle Paul says, "We have peace with God" (Romans 5:1).  Jonathan Edwards believed, "peace with God is that state of a believer whereby he is in reconciliation and favor with his Creator."

When we face days, weeks, months, or years of thirst to the soul, we must remember as Calvin did that "peace is a free gift and flows from the pure mercy of God."  God's peace is the most comforting peace we can experience.  His peace was foreordained before the foundation of the world; it is everlasting, and most important our peace was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace.  God's peace is not only comforting, it is effectual to relieve fear and uncertainty.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).  Drink deeply from the cool refreshing stream of God's peace.

Years ago a visit to the local grocery store would find the butcher cheerfully greeting me by asking, "How do you feel this morning."  I replied by saying, "I feel good."  Sometimes I didn’t feel good, but I said it.  Back then I didn’t even know the meaning of good.  One day I felt good, but tomorrow I might feel bad and the next day I feel indifferent.  Our feelings may change, but God's peace will never change.  Now that I have a better understanding of the truth and goodness of God, the integrity of God floods my soul with the hope and assurance of God's peace.  I cling to God's integrity during those dry spells in my life.  It is those true and reliable words from God that sustains me in the desert of despair.  Your feelings and emotions will let you down, but God's truth will fill your soul with heaven's eternal spring of truth.

The thirsty souls of Christians may receive some satisfaction intuitively and emotionally, but they may still feel like they are in a vacuum.  The people of God should express God’s peace and truth, however real and effectual they may be to the soul of the Christian.  Relationships are essential for Christian growth.  God said in the beginning "it was not good for the man to be alone" (alone = separated).  The most intimate and meaningful human relationship is between the husband and wife.  Then Christians must expand the scope of their relationships so that they may serve one another in the body of Christ.  During some of the most paralyzing droughts in my Christian life, some dear saint came to my aid.  Maybe just a kind word or an expression of love and encouragement.  

The desert of despair is a very dry place.  When we are caught in the desert, we may encounter a mirage occasionally, but false feelings and hopes will never satisfy the soul.  Look and drink from the pool that is filled with God's peace and His truth.  Then your soul will be satisfied.