“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.’” John 4:13-14
One of my best friends from camp loves to tell the story about carnival her senior-senior year. She and her friends had a contest to see who could eat everything at carnival, jump on the moon bounce, and not throw up. They ate funnel cake, popcorn, cookies…are you surprised that they all felt awful at the end of the night? My friend is hilarious and it always makes me laugh when she tells this, but it reminds me of the very worst way to live our stories.
In this story, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman. Not just any Samaritan woman. This woman had been labeled by her community as “Bad News”; probably someone they whispered about behind her back. The people around her thought she was “Bad News” because she had been married not once, not twice, not three times…five times. And she was dating a sixth guy.
In those days, that was more than enough to make everyone in her town not want to be around her. She kept doing the same thing, kept hoping that one of these marriages would fix her sadness and shame. The more sad she felt, the more she kept trying to have what she thought would make her happy. When Jesus meets her by a well in her town, she’s empty. What she thought she wanted didn’t fill her up; it just made her more sad.
So here they are, Jesus and this woman who is “Bad News.” Jesus could say a few things here. He could say nothing and just walk around her and try not to make eye contact, like most people she was around. He could make a snarky comment. He doesn’t.
He tells her that the life she is living won’t sustain her; that it will just make her emptier. He tells her that He is the one who is making all things new, that He is the water of life, and that with Him, she will never have to be empty again.
With this story, it’s so easy to say, “This is nothing like my life. I’m not like this woman. I don’t even have one husband, much less five. And what is a Samaritan anyway?” I totally get this; I’ve felt it many times. But think about the answer to this question: “If I only had ________, then I would be happy.” We wait and wait and try to have that one thing that we just have to have to be happy, and then…something else comes up.
The things we think will fill us won’t - that’s just us being human. Luckily, Jesus steps in and says, “You don’t have to live your life like that. You don’t have to wait for something bigger and better all the time.” He is the water of life. Because of his grace, we can stop waiting for life to be perfect to be happy, and experience the joy that Jesus offers us.