Rooted in Christ

Thirsting for God

Our heart is restless, until it rests in God.

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:2, NKJV) 

Several years ago I published a booklet through DayOne Publications called God’s Good News. My goal was to lay out a God-initiated, Christ-centered, Spirit-imparted presentation of the gospel. The publisher did an amazing job designing the booklet to make it readable and inviting. 

Allow me to share how I broached the subject. 

                                    “O Lord, you awaken us to delight in your praise,

                                    for you made us for yourself,

                                    and our heart is restless,

                                    until it rests in you.” 

That’s a quote from Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (A. D. 401) in his book, Confessions. He hits on something basic to being a human being. It involves a relationship with God and a restlessness without him. 

That relationship is what the Bible talks about. It’s a subject that reaches to the very core of life. 

This little booklet traces the broad strokes of the Bible’s message. It addresses the issue of the restlessness, discontentment, loneliness, out-of-whackness, ill-at-easeness, wondering-what-it’s-all-aboutness we all face in life. 

Making a booklet readable is helpful in our visually-oriented day and age. It draws the reader in. But more important is drawing the reader into the message that speaks to the basic need of the soul, whetting their appetite for good news of great joy. 

Augustine’s quote above provides an ideal stepping off point for discussion of the gospel. It begins by lifting the eye to God. It speaks to His design for us in creation for communion with Him but also hints at something that disrupted that design. It sets the stage for the story of redemption in God restoring that relationship and dealing with the root cause of the alienation, reconciling sinners to Himself through Jesus Christ. 

One of the biblical metaphors used to communicate the restlessness of which Augustine speaks is thirst. Thirst represents a need basic to human existence and subsistence. It motivates us, compelling us to satisfy it. 

The Bible makes it clear that only in Christ can our existential thirst be satisfied. He is the water of life given by God (Is. 55:1-3). Only in Jesus is our thirst sated so that we will never thirst again (Jn. 4:13-14). Only by drinking of Jesus through faith will living water well up from our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39) unto life eternal. 

What a fitting way to draw people into the gospel by impressing upon them that God is where their restlessness will be resolved! The good news is that God Himself provided for that rest through the reconciling work of His Son. 

But here is what we can sometimes miss. This invitation to rest in Christ does not belong just to the outset of the Christian journey; it belongs to whole of it as we sojourn in a dry and weary land that is this fallen world. 

The psalmists employ the image of thirst in respect to this journey. In regard to the oppression and taunts of an adversary, the writer of Psalm 42 says this: 

Psalm 42:1–2 

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,

     So pants my soul for You, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

     When shall I come and appear before God? 

David recognizes that it is in the shadow of God that protection from the scorching sun is found. All the oases the world has to offer are but mirages. 

Psalm 63:1 

1 O God, You are my God;

     Early will I seek You;

My soul thirsts for You;

     My flesh longs for You

     In a dry and thirsty land

     Where there is no water. 

Our thirst is for God Himself. Only by drinking deeply of His love for us and drinking in His glory in the wonder of Christ will our thirst be assuaged. 

Digging Deeper

  1. What restlessness do you see in your life right now?
  2. In what ways are you seeking to satisfy your thirst and find rest for your soul other than through God’s provision in Jesus Christ? 

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through Your servant Jeremiah, You say that Your people have committed two sins. They have forsaken You, the spring of living water; and they have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Father, forgive us our folly and refresh us all our days in Him who is the water of life. 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.