Are You Thirsty?
By Danielle Germaine Smith // Image by Amanda Smith
In lieu of our recently-canceled vacation, my husband and I decided to invest some of that time and money into refurbishing an extension of our apartment: our spacious, shady balcony. We hoped an outdoor oasis would help scratch our vacation itch, at least in part. And I knew the essential ingredient needed for such a refuge—fresh, planted flowers to fill the empty metal enclosure welded into our balcony’s edge, designed for this very purpose.
Possessing a not-so-promising record of gardening, I was doubtful of the feat of maintaining such a project, namely keeping the flowers alive. Determined to at least try, I made it to the hardware store, carefully chose the right type of plants for our shady space, and planted each one into the soiled layer of the long, plastic, flower troughs. Ever since, I have enjoyed our new garden almost daily. I’ve thoughtfully calculated the ideal times for watering and watched with strange delight as the soil drinks up the water I provide it each day. Determined to not mess up this garden project, I have found myself lost in thought about the flowers in front of me while sitting outside, distracted from the book in my hands or my intended time of prayer. Are the flowers beginning to wilt? Were those petals always like that? Is this just the beginning of yet another slow decay of plant life I will have been responsible for? Just then a new thought entered my mind, the voice soft and gentle; one I know well.
Danielle, what if you were this attentive to your soul’s thirst?
I immediately remembered the way I had seen the soil instantly quench the water I had faithfully been giving, and realized what a picture this was for the reality of the deepest, most hidden part of my being.
Indeed, what if I was more conscious of my soul’s eternally-thirsty state?
The narrative found in John 4:1-42 provides a profound glimpse into Christ’s heart to satisfy the deepest of thirsts and reveals to us four truths about His character. I encourage you to open up to this story and read it in its entirety before reading my summary of it below.
The story begins with Jesus needing an evacuation route, and He chooses Galilee as his next destination. In order to get there, however, the text indicates that it was necessary for him to “pass through Samaria,” (v. 4) a region that was not voluntarily visited by a Jew, and in most cases avoided entirely, with a longer, more roundabout journey being the preferred route. The text goes on to explain that Jesus, weary from the long journey, stops at Jacob’s well, a memorial marking significance in Israel’s history.
An unlikely character steps into the scene. A Samaritan woman was probably the last person one would expect someone of Jesus’ origin and background to be conversing with. John makes it known that it was already unheard of for Jews and Samaritans to have shared business, but a woman? Jesus crosses cultural, social, as well as religious boundaries to speak to this woman, who was most likely wanting to remain anonymous, coming to fetch water at this unusual hour of the day. And it was precisely this woman from whom Jesus, tired and thirsty, asks for a drink. The Samaritan woman responds, equally surprised, and Jesus now turns his question into an invitation, offering her “living water” (v. 10).
The woman appears skeptical at his offer, questioning this man’s power and comparing him to Jacob, a patriarch in Israel’s history, whose well is the scene of the narrative.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (v. 13-15).
Jesus, who just verses ago felt weary and thirsty, now reveals His divine power to quench the eternal thirst of this woman’s soul and offer her eternal life. Jesus goes on to respond to the woman’s request, revealing an intimate knowledge of her past and current situation and exposing His true identity to her as the promised Messiah. Many others also come to believe in Him on account of the woman’s testimony.
We can learn four beautiful truths about Jesus’ character from this story:
- Jesus, in intentional love, pursues you in your thirst.
Jesus’ astonishing pursuit of the Samaritan woman is no different from that of those whom He has chosen and now belong to Him. Just as He knew the brokenness of this woman, He also intimately knows your painful places and sees your attempts at filling them. Jesus loves us too much to let us seek fulfillment elsewhere and in loving discipline, graciously corrects us when we try (Hebrews 12:5-6). His pursuit is personal, adventurous, and one of self-sacrificing love, even the best love story can’t compete with.
- Jesus, in His humanity, understands your thirst.
Jesus is “wearied from his journey” (v. 6) and initiates conversation with the woman by asking her for a drink (v. 7). Such details are not coincidental. Jesus’ ability to weary and thirst point to the greater reality of His ability to empathize and sympathize with us in our weakness as our perfect high priest (Hebrews 4:15). He understands what heartbreak, temptation, and suffering is like and feels with youin all of these things. He not only knows but also perfectly understands exactly what you’re going through.
- Jesus is the only One who can make you realize your thirst.
Jesus exposes the temporal, short-lived promises of well water and points out a thirst much greater within. One that no jug of water, husband, nor religious tradition could still. The same is true of us. Apart from the exposing ministry of Christ’s Spirit in our hearts, we will continue to try finding satisfaction in His gifts. Whether it be a balcony garden, our spouse, binge-watching Netflix, a successful career, or even food, the gifts God gives us make for far-too-easy “wells” when our heart’s ultimate affection is not Christ. It is precisely our thirsty places that God desires to move in to. How aware are you of your thirst?
- Jesus, in His divinity, satisfies your thirst.
Jesus’ promise of Living Water is none other than the giving of Himself. His promise to never thirst again is His gift of salvation to those who believe in Him and are joined to Him in perfect oneness. The eternal desire He has placed within every human heart is evidence that it is a thirst that is meant to be satisfied. And it is in Jesus’ very nature to do so. Jesus isthe Satisfier of our souls. As Augustine writes in his work, Confessions, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
May the Spirit of Christ awaken our heart’s thirst and grant us the wisdom and grace to go straight to the source: the pursuing, understanding, exposing, Lover of our souls.