God Relieves Suffering

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 40-42; Acts 27:1-26

42 Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?
My tears have been my food both day and night,
    as people constantly questioned me,
    “Where’s your God now?”

But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
to God’s own house,
with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5, Common English Bible)


As the Deer
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

You’re my friend
And You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything
I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye
One of the most loved and successful contemporary Christian songs of the 1990s was “As the Deer” by the Maranatha Singers. It is one of my favorite songs of the past 30 years. There are also those who call the song contemporary. A 27-year-old song is not contemporary. A friend once said to me, “Old contemporary is actually new traditional.”
I digress. It is said that the song has as it’s basis, Psalm 42. To a degree, that idea is true. The first verse of “As the Deer” has obvious parallels with Psalm 42. The deer wanting water to drink. The human thirsting for God. These are pretty obvious.
Looking at the remainder of the song, however, there are no real parallels. There isn’t a place where we can see “As the Deer” clearly coupled with Psalm 42.
The biggest reason for us to question the claim is the theme of the song as opposed to the type of psalm we find in Psalm 42. There are more psalms of lament than any other psalm type. In all these, the psalmist sees the difficulty around him, particularly the difficulty in his own life. In each of these psalms, the psalmist is praying in an effort to encourage God to relieve his suffering and instead to deliver his suffering to his enemies.
Difficulty comes to all of us. And, there is nothing wrong with asking God to relieve our suffering. Further, I believe God will relieve our suffering, but, perhaps it happens in ways other than we imagine. It is a sign that we must look to God and open our eyes to new possibilities.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
WIth Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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