This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on July 24 2016. The series of posts ‘Diagnosing Spiritual Health’ is drawn from Donald Whitney’s book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Navpress, 2001).
Humans by nature desire things, to be satisfied by them. The nature of what we desire and the means by which we aim satisfy that desire is one test we can use to diagnose the health of our soul. We should recognise that humans were made to commune with God and so should thirst for him, much like we can all recognise that we were made with the need for water.
Do you feel thirsty for God? Whether it is because you are far from God and long for him, or because you are instead close to him but thirsty for more, this thirst is a sign of spiritual life, and an indicator of health. If you are not thirsty for God but feel you should be, consider what it is that you are thirsty for. Consider what satisfaction it is able to give. Consider how wrong it is for this thing to take the place of your Creator, and consider its impermanence in light of eternal things (cf. Jer. 2:13; Eph. 2:3a). Consider Paul’s example, who learned to forsake the things that once satisfied him for the purpose of being able to be close to Christ (Phil. 3:5-10). He understood that we must add the things of our life to God rather than simply adding God to our life.
To make use of this diagnostic question, we must learn to read the word of God in such a way that we begin and continue increasingly to desire God himself, much like the poet wrote in Psalm 143:6-8: “I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”