Satisfied and Thirsty

Posted: October 23, 2015 in Theology

Jesus says if we drink from him, we’ll never thirst.  But we sing over and over about how thirsty we are for God.  Jesus says, “You won’t thirst!”  We say, “We’re so thirsty!”  What’s going on?  We tell people that hunger is currency in the kingdom.  Hunger gets results.  “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6).”  We talk about desperation as essential to a move of God.  But Paul told the Galatians that all they did to usher in a move of God was believe (Galatians 3:1-7).  What’s going on here?  It’s like a tension between “I have you!” and “I want you!”

The Tension

On the one hand, Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that if she would drink the living water that He would give then she would never thirst again (John 4:13).  And later at the festival in John 7 he loudly announced that whoever is thirsty, come, and they will receive the living water that would become a spring within them, welling and springing up from their innermost being (John 7:38).   Jesus described the Spirit that would indwell them as a spring residing within them, not a mist landing on them from outside, but then dissipating.  I don’t believe Jesus was talking about an endless cycle of lack, desperation and eventual divine response.  I think he was promising a state of having more than enough permanently indwelling us, and constantly available to us, with the intention that it would flow out as a river of refreshing for others.

On the other hand, after the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2, the disciples found themselves in a tough spot with the authorities because of a controversial public miracle, but it was also a great opportunity for the Gospel.  So they sought the Lord in prayer and God responded by filling them afresh with the Holy Spirit, empowering them to tell people about the Lord Jesus with invigorated passion and courage (Acts 4:31).  If the original church sought God for Holy Spirit empowerment on multiple occasions, this surely gives me permission to do the same.

I resonate with both statements:

  • I am satisfied in God, not thirsting for any other thing because I have Living Waters flowing from my innermost being.
  • I am not satisfied, always thirsting for more of God’s power and love to be displayed on earth as it is in heaven.
Satisfaction Sustains Desire

In terms of the human body, when you drink your body feels deep pleasure at the refreshing drink.  Your body re-hydrates and then it sends the signal to your brain that you have enough.  Consequently your desire is abated and you stop drinking.  Why do you stop drinking?  You can have too much fluid.  When you “drink” of God, the receiving of love and mercy is also pleasurable and refreshing, deep in our soul.  However, it is more like making love than drinking water.  Making love is momentary, but it bonds you to your lover.  Or at least, it is meant to.  And your desire and attachment actually becomes strengthened, not out of personal need, but out of ecstasy.  The desire to possess is so strong it feels like a need.  It feels like hunger and thirst.  But it is born out of having the object of desire, not lacking the object of desire.  Being with your beloved doesn’t diminish or satiate desire.  It deepens the bond of connection and seals the attachment.  It’s like an addiction, except it is a healthy and good one.  It grows when you feed it.

This kind of desire is not borne of lack.  Instead, it’s just the natural response of wanting more of the good stuff now that you’ve tasted the good stuff.  Knowing that God will never withhold Himself from me makes my enjoyment of Him even sweeter.  Enjoyment of God increases one’s desire for God.  Not out of lack, but out of abundance.  People talk about wanting quality over quantity, but the truth is that once you have tasted the quality, then you want a quantity of the quality.  “I like it.  I love it.  I want some more of it!”


The dictionary definition of “desperation” reveals that we’ve been using the word inaccurately.  Webster defines desperation as:

  •  “a loss of hope and surrender to despair”
  • “a state of hopelessness leading to rashness.”

After reading those definitions, would you say that you are “desperate for God?”  Would you say that you are without hope and surrendered to despair to the point of making terrible and rash decisions?  I think we picked the wrong word to express how much we love and long for more of God.  Our passion is born of hope, not despair!  Our contending, praying, waiting, and seeking is born of believing the promise and knowing that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  If we were truly desperate, in the dictionary sense, we’d quit.  Desperation is the wrong word to express how much we enjoy, love, and long for more of God.  I’m not in a spiritual famine.  I’m in Christ.  I have everything I need for life and godliness in him (1 Peter 1:3).  I believe the gospel and that has ushered me into a feast.  And the food both satisfies and keeps me returning to feast more.  I want more because I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).

Jesus’ victory gives us the high ground from which to fight, and I don’t want to see us grovel as though we are nothing and have nothing and can do nothing.  I believe God would say, “What do you mean you are nothing?  I’ve made you worthy and adopted you as my children!  What do you mean you have nothing?  You have my authority and my Spirit and my wisdom and my voice!  What do you mean you can do nothing?  You can do exactly as I command and exactly as Jesus demonstrated because He lives inside of you!  Quit grovelling, get up, and believe my Word!  Enough of this unbelief masquerading as humility!  Where are my Joshua’s and Caleb’s in this battle hour?”

Everyone Should Have This!

When you have an awareness of the finished work of Christ, the place you have in the Father’s affections, access to the most holy place, divine empowerment, fellowship with God’s love, the riches of inheritance that are yours in Christ…and you walk in that and enjoy that…and then see the state people are in, that ought to create a deep longing for others to also come into the enjoyment of the Gospel.

What would you call a believer who is content in God but unconcerned about others?  To come out of a free all you can eat buffet, see poor starving people sitting around the entrance, and not long for them to all be fed would be crazy!  Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Luke 10:2).  The orchard is ready and the trees are weighed down, but there are only a few harvesters, and the apples are lying rotten on the ground!  So he says to ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers.  There’s a lot more in that than I’ll say here, but that one statement is a worthy meditation point.

When I say, “I’m hungry for more of God,” I’m not saying that I’m personally desperate and wretched.  I’m not!  I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing and covenantal faithfulness and that’s my daily bread which I will never be without (Ephesians 1:3, Hebrews 13:5).  But I want to see others enter into this fullness.  I want more of God’s will done on earth the way it’s happening in heaven.  More of God’s worship on earth as in heaven.  More of God’s name being honored on earth the way it’s happening in heaven.  We long for more of God’s truth believed by more people on earth as in heaven.  And I believe that in the going and doing we will experience him more fully and know him better.  If we’re spiritually alive and awake, how could we not long for this, pray for this, and take action to see this happen?

Faith is Kingdom Capital

A word of warning.  Earnest faith, not desperation, is capital in the kingdom.  Faith can take the form of intense, burning, eager desire, and an “I will not let you go until you bless me” attitude (Genesis 32:26).  But desperation, at least the way the dictionary defines it, is really unbelief and can lead to some very emotionally unhealthy spirituality.  Let’s hunger and thirst for righteousness because we see his promises.  Not as though he is unwilling to be close to us.  Not as though he needs to be convinced to come and fill us.  It’s his good pleasure to give us the kingdom!  He WANTS to pour out his Spirit on his children!  He’s promised to draw near if we draw near!  He’s already all in!  He gave us His Son, how could he possibly declare himself any more clearly to be IN (Romans 8:32)?  So let’s not beg, let’s pursue to receive what he has declared he intends to pour out.  The indwelling and empowering Holy Spirit is called “The Promise of the Father.”  So the prayer, “Immerse us in your power and love, like you promised,” is a totally legitimate prayer, and we should expect it to be answered.  He wants it more than we do.


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