[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from Kristen’s new book Humble Moms.]
The infamous woman in John 4 was unexpected: a Samaritan, and a female nonetheless. She had been in five marriages to five different husbands, all of which had dissolved, leaving wounds and insecurities and, in all likelihood, deeply-entrenched bitterness.
Her shame ran deep. Thirsty.
So at noon, she went to the well. The sun was hot that time of day, but at least she wouldn’t be bothered, whispered about, judged.
Oh fabulous. Someone is already here.
A man sits on the well’s edge, looking thirsty and worn. He is alone. He looks up and sees her, but he doesn’t move in the opposite direction like most men do (unless they want something from her).
Instead, he speaks. “Give me a drink.”
She is shocked into silence. This man isn’t from town. No, he is clearly one of them, a Jew, who for some reason had traveled through Samaria rather than avoiding it by way of the sea. After a moment, she responds. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
Why is he here? And why is he talking to me?
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).
Our human reasoning would not expect Jesus to interact with a woman like this—living in sin, an ethnic and religious half-breed, impure. Yet God does not typically do what we expect. Instead, Jesus—the Son of God, the Word made flesh, holiness incarnate, and a Jew—does exactly the opposite, and he surprises us with his lowliness.
We Thirst Like The Samaritan
Friend, no personality, no religious background, no family history or generational sin, no uncleanness, no need or longing is too burdensome for him. The only thing that qualifies us for Jesus is our lack of qualifications, our humble position of need before him. And the only woman whom Jesus refuses to help is the one unwilling to recognize her needy position.
So, consider: How are you like this woman?
You may not have a string of five men in your history, or maybe you do. You may not be a cultural outcast, or maybe you are. Regardless, we all know that sense of longing for more. How quickly feelings of happiness and contentment wear off. How no amount of retail therapy or indulgences or me-time or “well-done”s can give us the true satisfaction we thirst for.
We know the desire to escape from our circumstances, from our kids, from our history, from ourselves. We know the lingering suspicion that we just aren’t doing anything right and the shame from our repeated failures. Even after an ideal day with our families or coworkers, we know how our heads hit the pillow wondering, is this really all there is for me? This should have filled me up—why do I still feel so empty?
No, we are not unlike this woman. Every single one of us has a string of something behind us, reminding us of our shame and failure. And every single one of us knows what empty and thirsty feel like after trying so hard to be satisfied.
What Do We Thirst For?
How often are we content with temporary means of satisfying our thirsts? And how often is the Son of God, in all the riches of his grace, right in front of us, ready to serve us living water—a free gift! Ours for the taking! Yet we so often choose convenience and opt for ease, striving in our own strength, only to find that these replacements don’t last and can’t possibly quench our craving.
We hear echoes of the Samaritan woman’s request in our own:
Give me social media so I will not feel lonely.
Give me praise so I will not feel undervalued.
Give me opportunities so I will not feel useless.
Give me obedient children so they will not inconvenience me.
Now, social media and praise and well-behaved kids are not inherently evil. “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). Every good gift, every enjoyment comes from God, so these are not bad things in themselves—far from it. But we can’t expect these gifts to give us what only Jesus can.
Thirst for Our Maker
God created us to thirst for him. But when sin darkened our hearts, we “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:21, 25). We chose to forsake the fountain of living waters and instead ran after cheap, holey imitations. None of which could meet our soul’s greatest need and sustain its highest joy: eternal life loving and serving our Maker.
Through the power of his Spirit, Jesus regenerates our hearts and rights our worship, and we are given new desires so we will thirst for him above everything else. When Jesus says that those who drink of him will never thirst again, he isn’t saying that our longings will instantly disappear, but that he will always, always be there. Not only to meet us in our longings but to fill them up.
For every thirst we have, he promises to satisfy us with himself.
No bad day of marriage, no angry meltdown toward your kids, no attempts to escape from your circumstances, no wayward worship or mishandled thirst will shut off the fountain of rich mercy and grace that is in Jesus.
Quite the opposite: your thirst for him causes his plentiful provision and lavish grace to overflow to you exactly when you need it.
He Loves to Satisfy our Thirst
This gives us pause to examine ourselves and ask, How often do I view Jesus warily, like the woman did? He can’t possibly want to help me. I’ve messed up so much and been so weak and needy and failed yet again—and it’s only been an hour since I got out of bed! How frustrating for him.
Let Jesus’s encounter with this woman convince you: He loves it when you come to him and drink from him, for he is perfectly able to satisfy your longing soul. This is why he came. He is not like us, who get annoyed at people when they come to us with their wants and needs over and over again.
No, he seeks us out and welcomes us. He longs to satisfy our thirst.
This is who he is—a humble, servant-hearted Savior, ready and waiting to give us living water.
Meet the Author
Kristen Wetherell is a pastor’s wife, mother, and writer. She is the author of Humble Moms and Fight Your Fears, coauthor of the award-winning book Hope When It Hurts, and editor of 12 Faithful Women. She also enjoys teaching the Bible to women at conferences and retreats. Read Kristen’s writing on her website and connect with her on Instagram.