By Collin Ross
Nearly every nature documentary that I’ve seen includes a segment on life in the desert. One message always comes across: the life of the desert dweller is one of constant struggle. Nothing flourishes in these sun-scorched places of the earth, where nourishment is hard to come by.
When I picture this scene between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, I imagine the arid landscape of Palestine that this woman called home. It was, and continues to be, a land thirsty for water; and yet, her greatest need wasn’t from the desert around her, but the one within. Whether she realized it or not, her life was starved of nourishment.
One aspect of this interaction that I’ve always loved is the back-and-forth between the woman and Jesus. When Jesus dialogued with the highly respected Nicodemus, it was an entirely one-sided conversation. The poor Pharisee couldn’t keep up. But here is this illiterate woman with a questionable past, and Jesus invites her into a mutual dialogue. Christ chooses to listen, and He allows time for her to explore and discover the truth that He brings.
The love of Christ is often revealed in not only what He says, but to whom He speaks. No person is out of bounds for His redeeming love.
When our lives are starved for nourishment, we run to all kinds of things to try and satisfy our desire for nutrition: relationships, career, entertainment, etc. While these pursuits may provide temporary relief or distraction, we inevitably grow thirsty again, prompting us to begin the cycle once more. It’s an exhausting way to live, and yet this cycle characterizes so many of our lives. We orient our days around these things in the hopes that they will sustain us. Like the Samaritan woman, we shuffle back to the well, again and again. About this, Christ says, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again” (John 4:13).
Jesus comes to break that cycle by offering the nourishment that nothing else can match. “But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life” (v.14). When we orient our lives around Jesus and pursue His presence, He promises that our thirst will be satisfied in Him. He will sustain us through every season of life.
Jesus doesn’t require the Samaritan woman to earn His gift of living water. He simply beckons her to ask. He beckons us to do the same today—to stop searching for true nourishment in anything other than Him.
So today, let our prayer be that of the sixteenth-century missionary, Francis Xavier: “O God, grant that we may desire you, and desiring you seek you, and seeking you find you, and finding you be satisfied in you forever. Amen.”