Episode 6. Thirsting for the Living God. Psalm 63
Sometimes life is hard. And you hurt. And God seems very, very far away. Nicole and Sharon will be talking about some of those very hard times in their own lives. Then, we'll unpack Psalm 63 and discover ways to cope when it all seems too much. There's hope in this podcast. Have a listen.
Announcer 00:01 Well. Hello, tired one. Are you feeling a bit frazzled and worn out? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We hope lessons from God’s word and encouragement from us will lead you to soul rest. Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Nicole 00:22 Welcome back friends to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We are so glad you’ve joined us for episode six Thirsting for the living God. I’m Nicole Olstad and I’m here with Sharon Gamble of Sweet Selah Moments Ministries. Today we are going to look into God’s word and share our hearts on how to find the energy to meet with God when we are depressed or otherwise in a dark place.
Sharon Hey Nicole, thinking about where to start here, and I thought I’d talk about just natural thirst for water first. It’s become incredibly important to me because I have Meniere’s disease and that’s a disease where the little membrane in your ear is not quite right. And if I don’t stay fully hydrated and low salted, I have seizures in my brain. So all of a sudden, once I got Meniere’s disease, staying fully hydrated became not optional to me. I just need to be full of water all the time and keep my fluid levels even.
Sharon 01:20 So hydration is important and even if you don’t have Meniere’s it is. And I’m going to tell you a story about a high school girl that I knew who had vicious headaches, like debilitating, she’d be out of school for several days because of them. And then she tried to go back to school and she finally ended up on anti-seizure medicine just to try to stop the pain of the headaches and nothing worked. And I asked her, are you drinking water? Because I just read this book that said water does great things for like everything. And she said, of course I’m drinking water. So I challenged her. I said, how about you set out five water bottles a day and drink them all and see how much you’re really drinking? And she started doing that and her headaches disappeared. Now this does not happen for everybody with headaches,
Sharon 02:15 I’m just saying her headaches disappeared. And what she realized she’d done was sip all day, but she hadn’t guzzled. You know, you’ve got to guzzle.
Nicole I know, you have to get it down.
Sharon You have to guzzle sometimes. So, and then my dear father-in-law at the end of his life just didn’t want to drink, but without drinking enough water, he repeatedly was in the hospital because he needed to be hydrated. So before we talk about our desperate neediness for God, I thought I would just sort of point out that thirsting is exactly the right word. We are desperate for water in our bodies. Our bodies do not work right without being full of fluids. And in the same way, we’re desperate for God. And even in the darkest times, we have a thirst for him that nothing else can fill. And we can’t just take little tepid sips once in a while or say, I don’t feel thirsty.
Sharon 03:13 We have to stay hydrated. And that’s really the theme song here. We’re going to talk about thirsting for the living God. So how about you? Was it hard for you to stay hydrated?
Nicole It is. Water isn’t that exciting to drink. It’s hard to get it in and just taking the time to sit and gulp it down. But my adrenal glands don’t work, so I also need to drink so much water to balance the electrolytes in my body or I will pass out or get really sick and that’s kind of embarrassing to do in public. So I always have several water bottles stashed.
Sharon See, you know sometimes you think ‘Lord did you allow this particular illness to come into my life?’
Nicole It’s a great reminder, right?
Sharon 03:56 Could be. That’s good that you know the value of it. Yes, there’s all kinds of ways to drink it, but we do have to drink our water and we do have to meet with God. It’s the same thing. We’re very needy if we don’t have our meetings with the Lord to fill us because Jesus declares himself to be living water. But our Psalm for today is Psalm 63 and this is our most important part of every podcast is actually reading the word of God because that’s the Sweet Selah Moment when we’re spending time in his word. So it’s a Psalm of David regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah, so it was a desert time for David, an unhappy time, and we’re going to hear that word thirst. So why don’t you start with verse one and we’ll just read back and forth.
Nicole 04:45 Psalm 63 Oh God, you are my God. I earnestly search for you, my soul thirsts for you. My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.
Sharon I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Nicole Your unfailing love is better than life itself. How I praise you.
Sharon I will praise you as long as I live lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
Nicole You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.
Sharon I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night
Nicole Because you are my helper I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
Sharon I cling to you. Your strong, right hand holds me securely,
Nicole But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth.
Sharon They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals.
Nicole But the King will rejoice in God. All who swear to tell the truth will praise him while liars will be silenced.
Sharon So there’s David in the desert and he’s not just hoping for God, he’s thirsting longing to meet with his God to help him handle the desert time that he’s in. So have you ever had a desert time, Nicole, a time where God seemed very far away?
Nicole 06:09 Yeah, I think the first time was a rather rebellious period of my life where I looked at God and said, you know, I think I’m just going to try the world for a little bit and make sure that you are really the best thing out there. So that, as you can imagine, did not go so well,
Sharon Been there; done that.
Nicole But that was a self-inflicted desert. So I fully expected that one to hurt because I was walking away from God and said, well, let me just see. I think I’ll come back. I’m pretty sure. Thank you Jesus. That he brought me back. Yes. But the second one, kind of took my breath away. I wasn’t expecting a desert in this time of my life. I was pregnant with my third daughter. Things were going along just great. And then about five months along I started going into preterm labor.
Sharon Oh my!
Nicole 06:55 And so every day for several hours, labor would start up and it just terrified me. I have anxiety and that’s one of my triggers is health and my children. My greatest fear has always been to lose a child, which I think is most moms’ greatest fear you know.
Sharon Very, very normal fears.
Nicole So I was confronted with that fear every day and just stuck in bed worrying about it, stewing over it. And I was able to read, on my side, my little Jesus Calling book and just read that little snippet of encouragement and a little scripture verse and then just prayed. And I prayed and I prayed and he would bring to mind, scripture verses and songs just to carry me through. But it was a scary time. After all that she came full term fully healthy. I think she was a day late, but right after she was born I was really angry with God.
Nicole 07:47 I got really depressed and I could feel myself pulling away from him and I wasn’t even sure how to explain to him my anger. And it finally hit me that I was angry because I thought I was doing everything a good Christian should. I was doing all the right things and a bad thing had still happened or almost happened to me. And he had brought me too close for comfort to my worst fear. And I was angry with him for making me do that. So that was a really hard, hard desert for me to approach him with my anger and let him know how I hadn’t really enjoyed that. But he uses it for his good. Even those times of, you know, intense fear
Sharon 08:27 He does and you did the right thing with it, you came to him with the anger, which is really, where else do we go? You know, if we walk away, we have no comforter, we have no comfort because he is the source of comfort. So, and yeah, it is kind of like an abrupt thing when you’re going along just being good and wham, you get hit by something that isn’t it. And even though we read in the Bible about that happening over and over and we’re like, not me, but, yes, me.
Nicole None of us are exempt from troubles and it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Sharon One of my desert times was kind of ironic. It’s about having babies too. I wanted children so much and we didn’t have them for quite a while. And finally we had Kathryn and then surprisingly we had Mary shortly thereafter. That’s 15 months in between them.
Sharon 09:20 And we’d moved three times in that timeframe as well.
Nicole Oh wow.
Sharon So I had lost, we were in the military and that’s sort of normal, but I had just lost friendship after friendship and I felt very, very alone with the two little ones. It was just a very, very hard time for me. And my husband was going to graduate school and so he was super busy and super not available to hold my hand too much and I really sunk into a desert, a deep depression time. I can remember I had never understood depression. I think it was so good that God landed me there, allowed me to walk that path because I can remember thinking foolishly, well why people don’t just, you know, snap out of it. No, you feel so heavy.
Nicole You do.
Sharon Even folding laundry would take me all day and it felt like I was climbing Mount Everest just to fold the laundry.
Sharon 10:21 And I can remember when it came to a head for me was I was in church one day and this nice woman was trying to talk to me and she had a special needs child and the old Sharon, the Sharon that I used to be before I was in this deep valley would have smiled, would have made eye contact, would have said, Oh, and talked directly to the special needs child. I walked away. I did not feel I had the energy to deal with the situation. And as I walked away, I thought, God, what has happened to me? And it was my wakeup call that I was not where I wanted to be. I wasn’t even kind anymore. I was so locked in that dark desert time, but it wasn’t until I started crying out instead of just flumping there that slowly things got better and I started making simple to do lists like one a day, two a day and praying and eventually God lifted it.
Sharon 11:22 But there it was. So I also have been through a desert time. Well, let’s look at verse one for a minute in Psalm 63 and just hear David’s hurt. It’s beautifully written. Of course David wrote a lot of the Psalms because that was his gifting and sure enough he says, oh God, you are my God. I earnestly search for you where are you? Okay. So David isn’t feeling particularly close. Where is God in my desert, my soul thirsts for you? My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water and there’s our lack of hydration right there. He’s feeling it physically. His whole body is drying up because it’s not getting the water it needs, but he’s also feeling it spiritually. And his longing for the God water is more spoken about then the longing for the physical water because David knew God well and he was thirsty for him.
Sharon 1 12:30 He was so thirsty for him. And so why, when he was in that state, Nicole, do you think David was willing to search for him?
Nicole I think he must’ve remembered how good it was to be with God. He knows God, so he remembers that time when, Oh God, fulfill me. Keep me satisfied. My thirst, my longings. So he was willing to work, do the work to get to him.
Sharon Yes. I think that’s right. He knew what was good for him. You know, it’s like us. If you know we’re in a desert, we all of a sudden realize water is rather tasty, you know? And he knew that he needed God. So now we’re going to look at what does he do? David’s our example here. We’re in a desert where we’re searching for God who does not seem to be present. What does he do?
Sharon 13:17 And you nailed it with what you said. He said in verse two I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. He’s remembering what he’s seen. And I think the number one thing we do when we’re in this dark place is remember, remember the times when he was there and they’re hard to remember. When you’re in depression you’re like, no, I’ve always been in depression and I always will be in depression.
Nicole It does feel endless.
Sharon Doesn’t it? It’s really hard to remember times when you weren’t because you’re in that slog. But if you think back and remember to times that were more joyous that can reach you and it did reach David, which we’ll see soon. But the first thing he did was say, I have seen you in your sanctuary. I have gazed upon your power and glory. I remember the times when you were present.
Sharon 14:12 I’m not making this up. And that’s of course why he went towards God, because he knew that God was present. He was there. So how about you? When you’re in a dark place. Tell me sometimes when you’ve had to struggle through that yourself.
Nicole So I’d said I think it’s funny because some of the times when I remember God, they’re always really hard times. It’s never those mountain tops. It’s sometimes those valleys where he’s in the pain with you that you remember him the most. The experience, I more recently draw on is another baby story. We were pregnant with our fourth, and we found out that we were expecting twins and we were so excited.
Nicole 14:52 I’ve always wanted twins. I thought it’d be so fun. And a nice addition to our family. And we found out a couple of weeks afterward that they had done an ultrasound and one of the babies hearts had stopped. So we were devastated. So that took a long time to process that, and to balance the grief of losing one and then still try to have the joy of another one growing cause there was this guilt of , Oh, should I rejoice, should I…? So that was really hard. So during that time there was a woman’s conference I had already paid for and signed up for. I would not have gone if I hadn’t have already done that. So off I went with
Nicole 15:31 So off I went with some very dear friends and my mom and I was still really struggling and I had a dream while I was there and I dreamed that I had my baby in my arms and I saw a hand reach out and I placed my baby in that hand. And I knew it was the hand of Jesus. And I woke up with such a peace knowing that my, my time of caring for that child was over, my job was done. They were with Jesus and I was free to be excited for the one I still had. So that was such a moment of peace for me and God carried me through that my worst fear, actually bringing me through my worst fear that time. And then I started to miscarry the baby afterward and it was really scary because we could have lost Clara as well.
Nicole 16:17 And it wasn’t as dark as when I was on bedrest with Charlotte, even though I was losing a child because God was there. He had shown me, he had brought me through the previous time and I could be okay with him and this time I was like, okay, I’m going to be drinking that water every day. I’m going to keep you close because last time I didn’t do so well and this time I need you for every moment and I have remembered with such fondness the closeness that God was with me in that, even though it was one of the worst times of our life, God’s presence was so real to me that I still look back and I remember that time. He’s so good. He’s so good.
Sharon 16:54 It made me cry, but it’s just such a sweet gift that he gave you that dream.
Nicole I know and I’m not one who usually w has these vision dreams. I’m like, this is so real.
Sharon It was his kindness to you. His mercy. I just love it. And then the assurance that we have that that little one is with Jesus and lived every day, God planned. A very short life planned out.
Nicole What a perfect life to go from love to God is love with God. I have to just rest in that. There’s no injustice, I suppose. You know, it’s unfair. They’re so young.
Sharon Right, right. But where are they? They’re in heaven.
Nicole Yes. And missing all this messy world.
Sharon And isn’t that interesting? That one of your sweetest times with Jesus was one of your hardest. I love that.
Nicole I know it doesn’t seem to match up, but for me it holds so true.
Sharon 17:45 Oh, it does hold true. And we’re going to see this right now because, the next verses are going to talk about how David, still in the desert, all of a sudden has a whole new perspective on life, you know? So, I was going to share with you first though one of the times where God drew near to me. I had just accepted the job of national director for Moms in Prayer and I was taking a walk in Ogunquit, my favorite place to walk and feeling incredibly weird about the responsibility that I had with this new job and feeling very inadequate for it. And I remember going to one of those little coves there, you kind of climbed down in the rocks and you can see the water coming in. And I looked up at the cliffs around me and I felt very tiny and God spoke to me there and just said, Sharon, just stay small, because I was feeling very small, and let me be big. And that was my talking to from God. And that’s sort of my theme song. Let God be big. You don’t have to be, in fact, please don’t be big. It’s really bad when you get big. Stay small.
Nicole You’re much better at it, God.
Sharon 18:58 Yeah. And that was the time where he met me, where I was longing for a word from him and when he seemed very near. So, and I’m grateful he does this for us.
Nicole He’s so good to find us where we are and give us just what we need at that right time. It’s how he speaks to us. It’s amazing.
Sharon He made it short so I could remember it. Stay small.
Nicole Ha! That’s good.
Sharon It stayed with me. So anyways, let’s read again verses three through eight because we’ve got David parched. Then we have David remembering. And then still in the desert, just like my word, you were in a desert with your loss of a baby. And yet just like that, all of a sudden he’s found God right there. So why don’t you start with verse three, and let’s just hear how it all changes for David.
Nicole Your unfailing love is better than life itself. How I praise you.
Sharon 19:50 I will praise you as long as I live lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
Nicole You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.
Sharon I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night
Nicole Because you are my helper. I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
Sharon I cling to you and your strong right hand holds me securely.
Man. He just went from depression to praise. It’s just amazing.
Nicole And he’s still in the desert. God didn’t take him out of the desert either.
Sharon No, it’s not like, La! I’m in a throne room and people are feeding me grapes.
Nicole 20:29 Right.
Sharon For all we know he still hasn’t found physical water. Probably hasn’t. I mean that’s all one Psalm, you know. But there he is in the desert, but God came. So he was satisfied. So. So what’s your favorite verse out of those?
Nicole I love verse eight. I like the imagery of I cling to you. Your strong right hand holds me securely. I love that. Just a strong image of, okay, I’m clinging to you and your hand at hand is very important to me. You know, holding the baby. He’s holding me.
Sharon That’s right. That hand will always be a visual for you.
Nicole That’s very strong for me. Yeah.
Sharon That’s beautiful. Well, mine was the one right before. I liked verse seven, because you are my helper I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I have this thing about wings.
Sharon 21:14 Sweet Selah Ministries theme verse has to do with wings too.
Nicole Oh, that’s right.
Sharon God’s wings. Psalm 91 four, he will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. And I think it goes along with, for me, the stay small and let me be big thing, right? I just picture myself as this little bird and his big, strong wings over me, protecting me, sheltering me. No rain can hit a baby bird under its parents’ wing because the wings are made so intricately and woven together so tightly that they’re dry. Stunning. It really is. So I just love that picture. And the little bird is singing for joy right under there. And David in the midst of the desert all of a sudden has that sense of God’s wing over him. And he’s like, you know what, I’m safe because my God is with me.
Sharon 22:16 And he has that wonderful, wonderful discovery. So, okay, so here’s our second tip. First tip is, remember from before, remember to go to God’s word. Remember that oh, that’s right. He’s living water and I need to be in his word to feed on it, to drink the living water. Our second tip is to start praising him. Just do it even when you don’t feel like it. There’s been times I have absolutely not wanted to praise God. And yet when I’ve started and I’ve remembered who he was, my entire mood shifts because all of a sudden I’ve remembered who I have on my side and it changes absolutely everything. So well we’re not right now running from a literal enemy trying to kill us in the desert.
Nicole Thank goodness.
Sharon It could be worse, but I think we can still learn from the last verses.
Sharon 23:11 Can you just read verses nine through 11?
Nicole Sure. But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin. They will go down into the depths of the earth. They will die by the sword and become the food of jackals, but the King will rejoice in God. All who swear to tell the truth will praise him. While liars will be silenced, I think it’s encouraging. It just seems like even though evil’s there and there’s enemies that it won’t go on forever, evil won’t appear to win forever. God wins in the end, and if we’re faithful and we’re with God and telling the truth, the liars will be silent and we’ll praise God. We will.
Sharon 23:52 Isn’t it nice that we win in the end? It really is. I love where David says in verse 11 the King will rejoice in God and I’m looking at that and I’m thinking, I want to emphasize the word will. The King will rejoice in God. Sometimes it’s an act of the will to praise God. It just is. I’m remembering a night where I was in a very crabby mood and nobody was doing anything around the house. It was like all on me, you know, it was sort of the mother martyr syndrome and it was full blown and no one had walked the dog and I had been out and they should’ve walked the dog and the poor dog needed to be walked. And I still had dirty dishes to do because no one had done that and they were all busy. So I kind of, you know, snapped a leash on our dog and jerked him outside and started stomping around the neighborhood just full of that self-pity that is not pleasant. And God told me to praise him and I did not want to praise him. I was having fun being a martyr, but I did. I started praising him and as I walked I would say, Oh, thank you that you’re good. Thank you that you’re merciful. Thank you that you are light. Thank you that you are my shepherd. Thank you that you are faithful. And I came home so different that my family was really almost freaked out. I was so happy.
Nicole 25:23 Whoa. Mom, what happened?
Sharon 25:26 Whoa, Mother, what happened on that walk?
Sharon 25:27 And the only thing that had changed was that I had obeyed. Something I didn’t want to do and I willed that I would praise God. So, I guess what I would recommend to podcast listeners is if you’re in adesert place, first of all, we’re sorry, and we know they’re hard and we’ve been there and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. And we don’t want to minimize the pain or the heaviness and the stuck in the mud feeling that you have from that place. But remember, remember when you first asked Christ into your heart, if you have, remember that there is a God who loved you enough to die for you. And after you’ve remembered, just start praising him. Read a Psalm, go to Psalm 63 we highly recommend it and maybe write out in that Psalm all the things you learn about God the God who holds your hand, the God who shelters you with this wings and sit in that for a while and follow David’s example and know that this time will not last. That God does win and that he has good plans for you. Let me pray for you in closing. Heavenly father, I thank you that you meet us in the desert. I actually thank you for the times we get thirsty for you, Lord, because they help us recognize our great need to stay close to you and I pray for those listening today that if they don’t know you, that they will say, please show me yourself and if you seem far away that you would draw near and shelter them with your wings and hold them in your hands, in Jesus name. Amen.
Nicole 27:20 Thank you all for joining us today for a Sweet Selah Moments podcast and for listening to the stories of our own dark times and how God found us even there. We would love to hear how God has brought you through a desert in your life or are you still in one? Tell us about it. We would love to hear from you and pray for you. You can see all of our show notes and reach us @sweetselah.org or @wordradio.net and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. We would love it if you would subscribe and share this podcast to encourage others and please join us next time for episode seven as we talk about ‘Becoming His’
Announcer 0 27:10 We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be found @sweetselah.org and @wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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