Desperation is not often a good thing.
For instance, we should never fill a position in the church or even in a corporate setting out of sheer desperation. This can lead to a short-term fix that causes great disruption in the long run. Desperation can give way to a fear-based approach that sets a dire tone for the direction of an organization.
However, there is a kind of desperation that is positive and can lead to a sharp focus and a tenacity that seeks to quench spiritual hunger and thirst regardless of the cost.
This kind of desperation is described in the following examples from the Bible:
My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God! When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2, NIV)
My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. (Isaiah 26:9, NIV)
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NIV)
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1, NIV)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6, NIV)
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. (John 6:27, NIV)
The “good” kind of desperation, described in these verses and many others like them, is a desperate desire for God and for God’s ways to be above all else.
It is the kind of healthy desperation that causes fishermen to abandon their nets and follow Jesus. It causes a thirsty woman, drawing water from a well, to run into the village, proclaiming that she met the Savior. It is the kind of desperation that causes distractions from the ways of God to be cast aside so that holy love can become our primary focus.
A worship song penned by Marie Barnett sums up this kind of holy longing:
This is the air I breathe; Your holy presence living in me;
This is my daily bread; Your very word spoken to me.
And I am desperate for you; I am lost without you.
When we are filled with this holy desperation—abandoning our own ways and priorities that compete with the ways of Jesus—we find our thirst quenched and our lives filled with the refreshing leadership of the Spirit of God.
May we be the “good” kind of desperate this week, waiting for God to take His rightful place as the focus of our lives.
Prayer for the week:
O God, forgive me for longing for anything but You. Fill my longing heart with the only water that can quench my thirst: the living water that is Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name, Amen.
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.