We are the only species among God's creation afflicted and blessed with chronic longing. We are restless and discontent. We study, work and live to gain our houses and cars and gadgets and playthings. But whatever we get on our hands quickly grows old. We go through fad after fad, and trend after trend, but eventually we suffer boredom. We seem to have a thirst for something, or for someone, and we couldn't find what satisfies. Why?
It is God's design.
John 4:7-30 talks about an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Jesus asked the woman for a drink, but eventually He ended up talking about the water that He can give. When the woman asked Jesus for this water, He asked her to call her husband.
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Jesus was pointing to her thirst. She had a thirst, and as with all of humanity, she tried to find a way to satisfy it, and the way she chose to try to satisfy it is with human love and relationships.
She fails. Five husbands and a lover later, she still thirsts.
Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Like the woman, whatever way we choose to satisfy our thirst will ultimately fail. We may be happy for a while when we get the things we desire, we may be satisfied for a while, but eventually we will thirst again. We will want more. We will want something new. And the cycle never ends. Jesus, however, offers us an alternative.
The woman was surprised when Jesus offered to give her water. Her mind was on the physical. "But you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep!" But Jesus was not talking about the physical. He was talking beyond it. He was moving from the physical to the spiritual. From the temporary to the eternal. He was moving into her inner life. This is not water to be drank with the mouth, but it is to be drank with the heart. Jesus knows that the key to real and permanent happiness does not lie within the physical or the temporary. It does not lie with our bodies or our relationships or our money or our gadgets or our fame. The key lies in Him. Whoever drinks the water He gives them will never thirst.
In Jeremiah chapter 2, God was thinking about the days when the Israelites followed Him.
“This is what the Lord says: 'I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.'" (v2)
However, the people started turning away from Him and tries to find their satisfaction in something else.
“What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves." (v5)
He laid out the charges:
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (v13)
The charges brought by God against the Israelites are all too real for many of us. We often forget about Him and spend our days busily going after the things that we think will satisfy us. Here he says He is the spring of living water, but the people tried to dig their own cisterns, cisterns that not only do not satisfy, but cannot even hold water, and therefore are miserably inadequate for satisfying their thirsts.
In Isaiah 55, He sends us a call:
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55:1-2)
There are those who think that coming to God is useless or will mean giving up our pleasures. Others think that it is burdensome, or boring, or unpopular to go to God and live in Him. But the logic of the world is foolishness to God. "Why do you labor on what does not satisfy?" God wants us to be satisfied and happy. But He loves us too much that He wants to offer us what could really satisfy us for good. So eat what is good. Delight in the richest of fare. God is asking us to freely come and find satisfaction in Him.
"Men are in a restless pursuit after satisfaction in earthly things. They will exhaust themselves in the deceitful delights of sin, and, finding them all to be vanity and emptiness, they will become very perplexed and disappointed. But they will continue their fruitless search. Though wearied, they still stagger forward under the influence of spiritual madness, and though there is no result to be reached except that of everlasting disappointment, yet they press forward. They have no forethought for their eternal state; the present hour absorbs them. They turn to another and another of earth's broken cisterns, hoping to find water where not a drop was ever discovered yet." - Charles Spurgeon
All the treasures and all the pleasures of the world are not meant to give us fullness. CS Lewis writes that earthly pleasures “are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” And writing about our desires, “earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.”
Every pleasure in this world is pointing to the greatest source of pleasure. Drink of all earthly things and you will thirst again. The world does not satisfy, and it will not profit us to gain it.
CS Lewis then concludes: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
This world will keep us thirsty. It is God's design.
But He said "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink" (John 7:37).
The only answer for our thirst is Jesus. It is a gift He offers freely. Come and drink.