I am a person who is interested in going deeper. As a young man, I devoured books on the deeper Christian life. My quest for depth took me into the experience of so much joy, that I smiled all the time. I was also introduced to the experience of deep sorrow and pain.
I found out that deeper means the whole package: joy and sorrow. I found out that the reason Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted is that many people, including me, have had broken hearts that need Jesus. There is a tension in seeking the deeper life in God, in that when God takes you deeper, when you go deeper with God, you experience the depths of joy and sorrow.
When I first looked at Psalm 42, as a young man, I thought it was just about hunger for God. And it is true that it is about hunger for God. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you", is about hunger, longing, and desire for God. But the rest of the Psalm is harder to digest or face, because it is about deep pain and sorrow.
Psalm 42 is about weeping, loss and depression, along with seeking God. "As the deer pants", is a beautiful, poetic picture. The deer is thirsty, and so are we.
Another interpretation, is that the deer is panting, longing for the protection of the stream, where it's scent will be hidden from predators. We also desire to be in God's presence, which is the place of immunity from the enemy. We want to escape the taunting, the attacks, the abuse and the temptations of the dark forces; so we seek to be closer to God, where we find safety and comfort.
Psalm 42 is about, "let is be over", and the 'it' is the pain. The Bible is a book filled with stories of victory and joy, but also defeat and sorrow. The Bible teaches and models going through and experiencing both fully.
If we are full grown believers, we will know how to have full joy and full sorrow. Most of us have not grown up into knowing how to experience either, and we might even judge those who do as 'extreme'. Many of us have learned to be stoic and even live out of touch with our emotions.
My desire is to experience the depths of joy and the depths of sorrow. Let us be people who weep, grieve and groan, and people who cry tears of joy, dance for joy and vocalize their joy with shouts and laughter. This is what the authentic people of God have always been like and what we will be as we go deeper.
"Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me", is a picture of the deep life in God. Whatever the depth of my sorrow, God goes there with me. His presence is in my deepest sorrow, grief and loss. I have always been asking for more joy and more love and more power too, but not more pain.
But I have immense pain, immense loss; and while I do not minimize it, I also do not inflate it and I know that others have had much worse tragedies and immeasurable suffering. But pain is pain and loss is loss and suffering is suffering; and whatever mine or yours has been; the great revelation is that God goes there with us. God wants to walk through the door and into the feelings of pain, sorrow, depression, loss, anger, grief, hopelessness and suicide.
Yes God does want this for us. He wants to come into the darkest, most painful places in our hearts, in our memories, and in our past that haunts us. God wants to be there with us.
This is what the calling out is to, the prayer up is to and the cry of Psalm 42 is all about. God wants to come into the painful places. To all of our losses, suffering, disappointments and experiences of injustice is where God wants to go with us.
We often want suffering to just go away or disappear and we ask God for all the good things, the blessings, to replace all the bad things. And God does lavish upon us many blessings and many good things and even joy and happiness. But if we do not grieve our losses, mourn, feel, cry, and let it out; then we can not fully experience the good things, because part of us is missing and non-functional.
God wants to walk with us, through our sorrow and pain, so that we have the security to know we are loved in our ugliest, most shameful, depressed, hopeless, trapped rage places of our hearts. We will see God there and know that he is Lord of the low and the high places. When we live with and deeply experience God in sorrowful times, our lives in joyful and blessed times become richer, because we know we are loved at all times and in all places.