Today’s plight of the many, many Syrian (and other) refugees is not new. It’s merely a repeat. Merely? The fact of historic repetition doesn’t reduce the new pain. Take a look at the extract (in bold above) from a poem written at least 2,500 years ago. It’s from the national archives of Israel – of the Jews. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
Not only did the Jews experience this in WW2 but also around 1350 BC and at many more recent times in their history. Today it’s folk from other countries in the Middle East. Tomorrow it’s us. It will be other people who do the harm.
The ancient writer of this Psalm reports: Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. To the LORD? Not to the other people?
What then happened? He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Such is God’s provision for those who call upon him in their distress.
But it doesn’t always work out, does it? Often, maybe. Not always.
The Psalmist leaves that aside. This is not for those who wish to treat the LORD as a lucky charm, as a talisman, as a puppet. This is for people in great distress, wandering in desert wastelands..... With nowhere to turn.
Those who do cry he does deliver. Even if they die, he does deliver those who call upon him. And take them to glory.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Why? Why – even when they die – in this world? Here’s the Psalmist’s reason for thankfulness. For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
It’s not only the fact that, when one has turned to him in great distress, he shows clearly his steadfast loved, his unchanging, covenant love. It’s the fact that this steadfast love towards all who call actually satisfies every longing – every longing.