Last week, we looked at a verse found in Habakkuk 3:19, which states, "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." Those words were first penned by David and can also found in 2 Samuel 22:34 and Psalm 18:33. Obviously, Habakkuk had turned to the psalms in his distress and incorporated words that were particularly meaningful to him in his time of trouble. What verses are special to you in your own time of trouble?
The psalms include one more passage that mention deer, and that is found in Psalm 42:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:1-3).
All the deer references speak to God's' ability to sustain you in times of trouble. In fact, God won't simply help you maintain or survive in tough times, He will cause you to thrive and stand strong. That is one of the reasons why tough times come: to prove that the work God has done in your life is for real and will stand not just during problems, but for all eternity!
James also later wrote about God's work in your life during difficulties:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
In Psalm 42, the psalmist used a vivid word picture to indicate our need for God in our problems. We must be like a thirsty deer that needs to find streams of water for its survival. It did not look for lemonade or some other beverage, for only water was what the deer needed. The same is true for us: In times of trouble, we don't need a vacation or some entertainment diversion, we don't need to read a self-help book. Instead, we need the Lord. Jesus said He was like water and that all who thirsted should come to Him and drink:
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them" (John 7:37-38).
The woman at the well had discovered that truth earlier in John's gospel when she came to the well for water, but instead heard Jesus say, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14).
If you are facing difficult times, is God your source of sustenance and refreshment? Are you standing strong and drinking deeply of His word and His presence? James urged you not just to endure the trials, but to consider them a joyful experience because the end result will be a strengthening of your commitment to follow Jesus. During those trials, God will work things into you (and out of you) that are for your ultimate good. I pray that you will be like a deer during this season of your life, standing firm in Him and drinking deeply of the encouragement He will give you in abundance, but only if you seek Him as the source of relief and strength in your distress. Have a blessed week!