1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:1-2; 5
As I read these words from today’s Daily Office, I can’t help but think of the situation currently being faced by two sisters in Christ. Both have been valiantly battling cancer during the past year. Both have recently learned that their cancer has spread. Both have decided not to seek any additional aggressive treatment. And their decision — which I deeply admire for the faith that it demonstrates — also invites me to wonder: How will I respond when the time comes for me in which my “thirst for life” begins to be outpaced by my “thirst for God” and the peace that only He can give?
In saying that, I certainly don’t want to ignore or minimize the very real burden that these two friends and their families must be carrying as they contemplate such weighty decisions. Like the writer of Psalm 42, I’m sure that they’ve done their share of lamenting: “My tears have been my food day and night” (verse 3). “I say to God my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?'” (verse 9). “My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me” (verse 10). But throughout their cancer battle, I have witnessed the kind of trust in God that has enabled them to place their fight in His hands. And now that the efforts of modern medicine have reached anend, I am privileged to witness the kind of faith in God that enables them to leave their fight in His hands — and to declare through their decisions: “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (verses 5 and 11).
Many years after the psalmist’s thirst for God was quenched, the Apostle Paul would write: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
May God so order our faith and our thirsts that we long for His crown of righteousness more than life — and that we long for Him more than any crown.