Finding Our Way through the Wastelands

Psalm 107:1-9

“​1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
5 hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
7 he led them by a straight way,
until they reached an inhabited town.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things.”  NRSV

Sometimes, these depictions are about real situations, people wandering, lost in the wilderness, with no place to call home. I suspect the Psalmist here had a specific people in mind.

The beauty of scripture is that it almost always provides another layer of understanding, a metaphorical one, that transcends the circumstances of a particular people, to speak to more generally to the human condition.

People of every generation who live their lives without God in the center are sojourning in spiritual wastelands. They spend their best energies trying to quench a thirst with water or soda or adult beverages that can only be quenched by the Spirit of God. They hunger for things and more things convinced that the next thing they acquire will satisfy the gnawing hunger of inferiority or meaninglessness that constantly dogs their lives, “if only I had this…” is the carrot on the stick dangled just beyond their reach. They fail to realize their hunger is an existential one that only God can fulfill. That’s their wasteland.

The Table we gather around each week is filled with the food and drink that satisfies the spiritual hunger within.  It is heavenly food, post-Jesus manna from God.

Everything the world offers to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger leaves us only wanting for more…and of course, for a price, the world is more than happy to hand you and me another placebo they claim will do the trick. Trick being the operative word.

Jesus put it this way, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33, NRSV

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