I was at McDonald’s this week, doing ministry . . . Anyway, I got a large diet coke and when I glanced at the side of the cup, I read these words “Get quenched.” I thought, “What? Why is McDonald’s taking the pages of Scripture and using them for their marketing strategy? That slogan doesn’t belong to McDonald’s. It belongs to Christ and His church. Didn’t Jesus say that He was the living water and that whoever drinks of Him will never thirst again? I started a word study on the word “thirst,” and I was led to Psalm 107.
Psalm 107-Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this– those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Do you remember the Melissa Manchester hit song, “Don’t cry out loud?” According to the song, we’re supposed to keep things inside and learn how to hide our feelings. We fly high and proud and solo if we follow the song’s advice. The problem is, the advice of the song is contrary to the advice of God’s Word. He wants us to cry out loud to Him wherever we are and often. If you have your Bibles in front of you, scan the Psalm. Verse 6, “6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” Verse 13, “13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” Verse 19, “19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” Verse 28, “28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.”
Crying out to God isn’t first and foremost an expression of weakness. It’s a sign of faith. Look at the end of the Psalm: “Let those who are wise give heed to these things and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” It’s because you believe in the steadfast love of God that you are willing to cry out to Him. Your crying out to Him isn’t random and senseless. It’s not a shot in the dark, but it’s an expression of faith that you believe the One to whom you cry out is able to do something about that which is causing you to cry in the first place. The Psalmist is saying in the last verse, think about it people, the One you are crying out to loves you with a full commitment that will never wane and He is the One who can help you in any circumstance. It only stands to reason that crying out to Him would be a good thing and the right thing to do.
I said that crying out was an expression of faith. It is. It’s also an expression of honesty. If you are crying out to God, you have recognized that you have needs that you can’t meet. Let me just offer some freedom for some of us this morning. You weren’t created to meet all of your needs. You are limited. I am limited. We were created with limitations so that we would cry out to God. When we cry out to Him, we are expressing that we realize we are limited and that He is infinite.
If a child is hungry but never expresses his hunger, he will suffer in silence and eventually die. If a child is thirsty and never expresses his thirst, he will suffer in silence and eventually die. Unmet needs have bad consequences. Unmet needs result in destruction. Expressed needs create an opportunity for them to be met, for something new to happen. When you express your need, you give God permission to get involved in your situation.
One image used in this Psalm is the image of thirst. Verse nine said, “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” What are you thirsty for? What are you hungry for? What is your need? Why do you need to cry out to God this morning?
We see some reasons in Psalm 107 to cry out to God.
First, Cry Out When You Are Wandering in the Wasteland
The first category of people who give a testimony here, beginning in verse 4, are those who “are wandering in a wasteland, in a desert, finding no city where they could settle. They are looking for a city of habitation — or we might translate this more literally as they are looking for “a place to sit.” They are looking for a guarded and permanent place. In this particular place, the Israelites are trying to get back home from captivity in Babylon. They had no place to stay, and no food to eat. It was a long way from Babylon to Judah and the dangers were many, but the Lord brought His people safely home. In their need, they cried out to Him and He brought them out, led them through the wilderness, and brought them to their own land where they found cities to live in.
One of the words that is translated “thirsty” here could also be translated “frantic.” These are frantic people, searching for something to put their trust in, searching for something to hold on to. Do we have people like that today? People who are wandering from one thing to another? Perhaps something that is sinful, that they are holding on to, but perhaps not. Perhaps they are looking for fulfillment in careers, they are looking for fulfillment in marriage, they are looking for fulfillment in relationships with others, and they can’t find it. They are looking again and again. They are frantic. They are restless. They wander in hopes of finding something to anchor to and often in doing so they have wandered far away from God, the only One who can satisfy.
Warren Wiersbe makes the observation, “That a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.” We see that in the story of the Prodigal Son who thought he could find security in asking for his inheritance early. Leaving his family and the security that provided, he struck out on his own. We know he didn’t take his money to start a business or invest it in some way. Scripture says he squandered his money on reckless and restless living. That tells me he used his money to continue looking for happiness and contentment. Maybe he thought, “If I could just get away from my family and my dad’s control, I’ll be happy.” If he did, we see from Scripture that wasn’t the case. He continued to search through life expensive life experiences. We know he didn’t use his money to acquire things like a house and furniture because we read in Luke 15 that he wound up with nothing to show for the money he spent. He wound up broke, hungry and living in a pig pen, even desiring the food he was feeding the pigs. From riches to rags because of a restless heart.
The Israelites found the answer when they were wanderers. It was in crying out to Jesus that their thirst was quenched and that they were given a place in which to settle.
Second, Cry Out When You Are Dwelling In Darkness
Beginning in verse 10 of Psalm 107, we read about those who are dwelling in darkness, in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains because they had rebelled against the word of God –these people clearly are suffering the consequences of their rebellion. They have heard God’s word. They have heard it spoken. They have seen it work, but they have rejected it. And where do they find themselves? They find themselves prisoners in chains.
The truth that we know is that there are consequences for our actions, but don’t forget the last verse of Psalm 107. “Let those who are wise give heed to these things and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” There is no prison too dark, no addiction too strong, no bondage too powerful that the steadfast love of the Lord can’t reach you and help you to become forever free. Your sin can’t take you farther than the love of God can reach you.
Who today is in chains, is a prisoner of some type? There are all kinds of things that can bind and enslave us. You can be a slave to drugs and alcohol. Eventually those addictions overtake you. You no longer decide when you will drink and drug or in what quantity. The drugs or alcohol make the call. You are at the bidding of the craving.
You can be enslaved to the image society creates for you. You have to dress a certain way, look a certain way, be at a certain weight, you think, in order to be accepted. You become a slave to fashion and diet and find you’ve compromised your health in order to get and stay thin and your bank account and credit rating in order to fit in.
You can be a slave to bitterness and anger in your heart. You can put up all kinds of walls that keep you from experiencing the satisfaction and nurturing and happiness that come from healthy relationships. It can cause people to avoid you. I was in McDonald’s across from Memorial hospital this past week and a gentleman was ridiculously angry, mean, and nasty because the lettuce in his salad was brown. He reduced the manager to tears with his comments. As I processed what I witnessed I thought to myself, “This isn’t about brown lettuce.” That man was a miserable person who made a fool out of himself, hurt the feelings of the McDonald’s manager, and embarrassed his wife. You don’t one day decide that brown lettuce is worth all of that. That kind of reaction comes from years of anger and bitterness. As people created by God for relationship, we’ll find ourselves bitter and alone if we aren’t delivered from our anger.
Your bitterness and anger can cause you to stunt your relationship with God. If you aren’t right with others, how can you go the distance with God? That anger and bitterness in your heart put up a barrier between you and God.
You can be a slave to sexuality through sex outside of marriage, adultery, pornography, sexting via text message, sexual fantasy through romance novels or perverted phone lines, strip clubs, or even just the restless desire to feel truly loved that leads you from one sexual encounter to another only to come out broken and empty.
You can be a slave to things like work or money. You can be a slave to people’s opinions, wanting to please everyone all of the time. I know people who have left ministry or have stepped out of ministry for years because of the fear of hurting someone’s feelings or not being able to please all of the people all of the time.
You can be a slave simply to the busyness of your schedule. It might be all good things or noble things that you are involved in, but when you can’t find time to rest or time for God or time to minister to the people that God lays on your heart, you are a slave to your own calendar.
The people discussed in verses 10 to 16 of Psalm 107 are those who are bound, and they have tried to get out, and they can’t. They can do nothing to free themselves from their bondage.
Hear me clearly. We are not meant to live in bondage. In crying out to God, the Israelites were freed. Verse 14 says, “He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” I’m telling you on the authority of God’s Word that God can bring you out. Look at your neighbor and say, “God can bring you out.”
Psalm 40:1-3 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and HEARD MY CRY. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” It goes on to say, “He put a new song in my mouth!” God can literally change your tune. You can get out of whatever slimy pit you’re in!
You can go from angry to loving. You can go from judgmental to grace giving. You can go from addict to overcomer. God can absolutely, radically change your life so that you aren’t even recognizable to yourself, let alone your family and friends. If you want to be free, start crying out.
Third, Cry Out When You Are Defeated and in Despair
The third category of people is described beginning in verse 17. These are fools; they are involved in sinfulness; it says their sin has caused them to be afflicted. These people are discouraged and hopeless. It says that they abhor all kinds of food: what could give them sustenance they now reject. They have bought the devil’s lie that there is no hope for them. They are ready to give up and die.
David Wilkerson tells a story of a man in this situation. A pastor that he knew had been having some difficult times in his marriage. He and his wife ended up going over the brink one night, and he yelled at her, ran out, and went back to the alcohol habit which, by God’s grace, he had whipped many years before. He returned in the middle of the night drunk. The next morning he went to see David Wilkerson, and told him, “David, I just need to leave the ministry. I cannot continue in a life like this. I’ve lost it. I am worthless. There is nothing that I have to offer any more.”
This is the type of person described in verses 17-22: the one who has indeed sinned, but who then believes Satan’s lie that because of that sin, his life is hopeless and worthless, and there is no way that God can use him anymore. Don’t buy it.
If you’re feeling bad about choices you’ve made, thank God that His Holy Spirit is still convicting you of sin. Rick Warren has said, “There’s nothing wrong with our feelings; God gave them to us. But feelings are just feelings.” Your feelings do not define the truth. Only God defines the truth.
You may feel hopeless, but you are never without hope. You have just as much hope as someone who has been consistently walking with the Lord because He makes all things new. That’s His Word. That’s His promise. Cry out to Him. Don’t give up. You’ll play right into Satan’s hands. He wants to keep you from the One who can sustain you. Don’t let Him! Cry out to God and He’ll change your perspective and give you new life.
Finally, Cry Out When You are Sinking in the Storms of Life
Verses 23 to 32 describe people who are doing business on the sea, and in the middle of their business they are going out and encounter a terrible storm. Now it does not indicate that these people have done anything wrong. They are simply engaged in the normal acts of life. But in the middle of those acts, a storm comes up. Who sends that storm? Verse 25: “GOD spoke, and raised up a stormy wind which lifted up the waves of the sea.” GOD sent a storm into their lives not in consequence of sin but perhaps to get their attention.
Maybe these are people who are just going about, living life, enjoying a life that seems to be going according to their plan. Tragedy hits. A trial comes upon them that they can’t handle. They think that they are in control of their lives. They think that their businesses are firmly established, and suddenly — snap! — There it goes. It’s gone. What they trusted in, what they thought was set up for them, what they thought was a sure thing, no longer is. And they come to what verse 27 calls their “wits end.” Did you know the origin of that expression is directly from the Bible? It means you are unable to think of anything else you can do to change things. Have you ever been there? At your wits’ end?
I think there are some people who have to be convinced that they need God. For whatever reason, their lives seem to unfold before them with ease and according to their personal desires and it isn’t until the picture gets a smudge on it that they realize they aren’t in control. God allows a storm to come into their lives to help them see their need to turn to them. God puts storms in their life to bring them to their wits’ end. Have you ever prayed for someone, “God, do whatever it takes?” Sometimes those prayers are answered as a storm comes into their lives.
Psalm 107 describes four groups of people. The frantic and restless, looking for some security; those who are chained and bound in slavery to some type of sin; those who are discouraged, who feel hopeless, and are ready to quit; and those who think everything is going well, and then suddenly are hit with a tragedy or a storm, or some unexpected occurrence that drives them to their knees. In all four instances, the groups of people were thirsty for a different experience. That’s what caused them to cry out to God. It has been said that change doesn’t usually occur until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. You’ve got to want something different. You’ve got to be dissatisfied with wandering, dissatisfied with bondage, dissatisfied with your rebellion, and dissatisfied with the wind and the waves and want something different.
When you cry out for something different than you currently possess or to be delivered from where you currently are, you are saying, “God I’m thirsty for YOU to do what will help or deliver me.” I’ve been thirsty for the things of the world or I’ve been thirsty for control over my own life, but now I’m thirsty for YOU and YOUR ways to be accomplished in my life. Is anyone this morning thirsty for something different in their life?
The Canannite woman in Matthew 15 was desperate for something different. Her daughter was demon possessed and she came and Scripture says she was crying out to Jesus. She times, she pressed Him for a miracle. I think Jesus engaged her in dialogue instead of immediately granting her request so that those who were watching would see what determination looks like, what wanting something different looks like.
The woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5 had been from doctor to doctor. Years and years had passed since she began her pursuit of healing. She spent everything she had trying to find a cure. Talk about determination. She wouldn’t give up hope. We wanted a miracle. She wanted healing. She was going to get to Jesus no matter what it took.
Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10 cried out to Jesus even though everyone around him told him to be quiet. He heard Jesus was walking by and had heard Jesus could heal people. He just started crying out. He got his healing.
If I counted correctly, the love of God is celebrated or discussed 6 times in Psalm 107. It is the love of God that causes your cry to be heard and attended to. The Lord’s “loving kindness” quenches every thirst.
Crying out to the Lord needs to become a part of our DNA as Christians like Bible reading, serving others, and sharing our faith. As you think back over this last week, how many times do you remember crying out to the Lord? Whether you were asking Him for wisdom, or deliverance or strength or to save your loved ones? How often did you speak with Him?
I believe some of you are thirsting for things to be different in your life. Today is an appointed time for a breakthrough, a change, a miracle, for some of you. Some of you need to come this morning to cry out on behalf of yourself. Some of you need to say, “God I need a breakthrough. I need Your help. I need Your healing. I need You to anchor my heart to Yours.” Some of you need to come and cry out on behalf of your children that are enslaved by addiction or something else or perhaps they have wandered from the faith. Maybe you need to come cry out on behalf of a friend who needs to see God move in their situation.
The answer to your heart’s cry begins with a thirst for change, a thirst for something different. Psalm 107:9 tells the rest of the story. “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Why not cry out and get quenched?