Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
My son and I just read about Noah and the ark. We talked about how the floodwaters surged on the face of the earth for 150 days, and how the ark finally came to rest atop a mountain. Eventually, the waters began to recede. And after 40 days, Noah opened the window of the ark to send out a raven… and the rest is history.
After the story, I asked my son how he would have felt being surrounded by all those animals in an ark for so long. And his answer took me by surprise. That’s because he said, “Hungry and thirsty.” What?? This is not at all what I expected, and so I asked him why he said what he did. And he answered, logically, “Well, 40 days and 40 nights…”
And quite rightly. Because after forty days without food and water, I, too, would be hungry and thirsty. My son seemed to have overlooked how long Noah was really aboard that ship, though… and obviously, we neglected to discuss food rations.
At any rate, I was stunned by my son’s reply. Because earlier this morning, I just thought about his early years. I smiled as I reminisced, picturing my son on his throne (otherwise called the couch), and how he used to make his demands. He would cry out, “Hungry! Thirsty!” And until I realized how very wrong it was, I used to jump at his every command, supplying him with food and drink as quickly as possible.
Eventually, I figured out I needed to teach my boy some manners, and how one should politely ask for food and water. But, for a time that’s just what I did… he would yell, “Hungry!” or “Thirsty!” and I would fulfill his need.
I find it amazing that this is where his little mind took him this morning. For in contemplating what life must have been like on that ark, he did not hone in on it being fearful, or dark, or scary, or perhaps exhilarating and exciting. No, it was physical needs that spoke to my son. And that makes me think of Jesus, who also had physical needs.
Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. And afterward, quite rightly, He was hungry. That’s when the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” See, although Jesus knew the reality of real hunger, he also knew a deeper truth… and it was this deeper truth He spoke of in Matthew 4:4.
Today, we know very well how real hunger and thirst are. Because when our throats become dry, or when our tummies begin to rumble, we can barely concentrate on anything else. Because those physical demands consume us. But, there’s another type of hunger and thirst that is every bit as real as the physical. Only this type goes so much deeper than the surface.
See, I have felt hunger pangs that Wonder Bread cannot assuage, and I have experienced a thirst that not even Evian could quench. And perhaps the woman we read about in the fourth chapter of John felt the same. Perhaps she, too, had an unquenchable thirst and a hunger for more than bread alone. Because although this woman went to the well to gather water, she gained so much more. Oh, she was thirsty, alright, but for something deep and internal…
I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:2
Jesus came to a town of Samaria, and because he was worn out from his journey, he sat down at a well. In the evening, a woman of Samaria came to draw water but Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” She was surprised that He spoke to her since He was a Jew, and Jews did not associate with Samaritans. When she mentioned this, Jesus simply said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”
The woman wanted to know how to get this living water since Jesus didn’t even have a bucket and the well was deep. He said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I give him will never get thirsty again-ever! In fact, the water I give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” She said, “Sir, give me this water…”
I’ve heard several sermons on this passage of Scripture. And because of circumstances, we can infer that this woman must have been an outcast. First of all, she was a Samaritan hated by the Jews even though they shared the same ancestry. Basically, she was from a mixed race and apparently racism extends as far back as we can recall. Not only that, she came to the well when it was evening… perhaps there was less chance of running into people she wished to avoid. And finally, this woman had been married five times and the one she lived with was not her husband.
I would bet this woman had some excess baggage and a closet full of skeletons. I would even venture to say she probably felt quite desperate. And hungry. And oh, so thirsty by the time she ran into Jesus. But then, something out of the ordinary occurred… for when the woman from Samaria tended to her daily chores, she encountered not just another man. No, this time she encountered a Savior. Right there in the midst of routine, she discovered Jesus Christ.
And though He was a Jew, Jesus did not turn the other way in an attempt to avoid her (which would have been the norm). No, He did not greet her with indignation or contempt or condemnation or judgment. Rather, He met her right where she was. He tended to her deeper needs. He spoke of spiritual matters and He told her how to assuage her thirst with living water.
I just have to smile when I think about my son in his more tender years. When his stomach growled, he’d yell out, “Hungry!” knowing that his mama would take care of him. And when his throat became parched, he’d call out, “Thirsty!”, again, knowing I was there to handle it. And I just have to smile when I think about what God would say to us, His own children, when we do the same today…
Because there are those times when I ache inside… times when I need something, but can’t say what. And it’s then that my starving soul must be crying out, “Hungry!” And His reply?
“I am the bread of life. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again…” John 6:35
And for those times when I feel as dry as a bone… times when I am near desperate for revival of my soul but just can’t seem to get there. It’s then that my insides must be screaming, “Thirsty!” And His reply?
If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! John 7:37
God is simply waiting for us to ask… because He is our heavenly father. When we’re hungry, He will feed us. And when we’re thirsty, He will give us drink. And if we open our ears to His word, we will hear Him.
For He says, “Come…”
Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why do you spend money on what is not good, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods. Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live. Isaiah 55:1-3