Lent Day 1 – Psalm 42

As a deer longs for streams of water,

so I long for you, O God!

I thirst for God,

for the living God.

I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”

Psalm 42.1-2, NET

Apparently Psalms 42 and 43 belonged together at one time and many Hebrew manuscripts have them as one psalm¹. As we move into the time in the Christian calendar known as lent (see yesterday’s devotional here if you missed it) it would benefit us to really see the attitude behind the actions. Yes, practicing fasting and having a specific focus on the upcoming Easter weekend is a good thing, but why? Where should my heart be in order for those actions to come naturally?

As a deer longs for streams of water,

so I long for you, O God!

I thirst for God,

for the living God.

I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”

Psalm 42.1-2, NET

The deer needs streams of water to live and the Psalmist here is acknowledging that they too long for God. There is a basic truth that many miss that God is essential to life (John 1.4, 5.26, for example). The Psalmist knows it here and says that he [thirsts] for the living God. He says “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”

This is the attitude that we should have going into Lent, or at least aspire to have as we move through this often-overlooked period of time. The longing, thirsting desire to appear in God’s presence is something that fasting and focusing on the events of Easter  will help us curate and cultivate in our lives.

Don’t misunderstand me, practicing fasting and an intentional focus on the horizon of Easter is not a magic way to appear in God’s presence. Yes, there is real spiritual value in fasting (of all kinds, not simply food), but it’s not a magic ‘do this, get this’ formula. Rather, it is one of many spiritual, faith-based practices that we ought to be building into our lives.

I’ve never, ever read about, heard of, or talked to anyone that was about to step from this life into eternity who wished they’d spent more time on Twitter, wished they’d built their personal image a bit more, or watched a few more movies. People on the precipice of life do, however, often wish they had invested more of their time and themselves into their life of faith and its habits: praying, fasting, fellowshipping with others, Scripture reading, personal devotional time, carrying out justice, loving faithfulness, and living obediently before God (Micah 6.8).

All this to say, as we move into Lent today, don’t think of it as a magic month (or so). Rather, see it as one more string on your bow, so to speak. It’s one thing that you can do (if you choose) to cultivate the attitude of Psalm 42.1-2:

As a deer longs for streams of water,

so I long for you, O God!

I thirst for God,

for the living God.

I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”


¹ – Allen P. Ross

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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