Water for the Wilderness

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ – John 4:13-14

In John 4:1-26, we read the story of Jesus coming to Jacobs well outside the Samaritan city called Sychar. Jesus is alone as he arrives at the well and we can imagine that he is tired and thirsty. There is a woman there and Jesus asks her to give him a drink. That doesn’t seem unusual at first glance but the woman is surprised.

“Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”

Here’s what is unusual in this encounter – Jewish men do not speak to women in public places. That was the culture then. And even more taboo is the fact that she is a Samaritan woman. Samaritans were considered impure by the Jews and usually, when traveling, the Jewish people would go out of their way to avoid passing through Samaria.

This woman had so much going against her. She was a Samaritan, a woman, and she was ostracized by the other woman. How do we know that? She came to the well at noon, the hottest time of the day, when no one else would normally be there. She had a past. In this conversation, Jesus tells her he knows she has been married five times and now lives with a man she is not married to. More than likely, that wasn’t her fault. It’s quite possible that her husbands had died and she had been widowed, left as a pauper to fend for herself. Widows were not taken care of in that day, unless a brother of the deceased husband could marry her. We aren’t told the whole story but we can assume that something like that happened and eventually there was no one to take care of her. And so, she ended up with a man who would not marry her. She had to do something to survive. Little did she know that late morning as she trudged in the heat through the village, carrying her water jars, that her life was about to change.

Jesus is there, asking for water but then telling her he will give her living water. He shows this woman, whom he knows everything about, the deepest care and interest. He values her and he even uses her as the first evangelist who goes into the village and tells everyone about Jesus. She is convinced, after talking with him, that he is the Messiah.

This woman encountered the Living Water through Jesus, the Christ, the Savior. Her thirst was eternally quenched because, in her wilderness – her dry desert – Jesus saw her need and loved her for who she was. We never know the pain the people next to us are carrying. We are so afraid, sometimes so ashamed, to reveal our deepest guilt or fear and so we keep it inside and it eats us up and parches our spirit.

To be seen and truly known, and still be loved – really loved – is what we all long for. If only we can trust enough to share our deepest secrets with those who care about us. In our wilderness moments, genuine love is relief. It is the living water that quenches our driest thirst and renews our souls. It is acceptance, being valued and understood. Relief, redemption, revival – that is what the Living Water Jesus gives us does in our wilderness moments.

Like the psalmist, in Psalm 63, are you crying: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water?

What is it that keeps you in the wilderness? Is there someone you can share with? I hope so, but I also pray you will find the Living Water that Jesus, who loves you more than you can imagine, will give you. Turn to him. Talk to him. Ask him for help. He will understand, will give you forgiveness and grace if you need it, he will give you life.

And remember, you can be that trusted, loving person who offers compassion and support to another who is in the wilderness. Offer Jesus to them – the Living Water – that quenches the parched places in our souls.

Peace and Grace,


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