“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 (ESV)
Here we see another soul desperately seeking to satisfy an inescapable physical problem, thirst. As surely as the sun has risen everyday in our mortal existence on this earth, we have encountered the need to drink. Our bodies demand it. Water is essential in maintaining the health and operation of internal organs, it is essential to brain function, digestion and temperature regulation. Even the most marginal deficit of water in the human body triggers the feeling of thirst. If we look at the foundational drive behind our thirst, we must understand that, even in the mildest form, thirst is the bodies way of screaming out in fear of death. Without hydration, our body takes the initial step in a very bad direction. Our body understands the severity of the need. Thankfully, all we must do to satisfy our thirst is engage the operation of a sink, a fountain, or possibly a convenience store cooler. We don’t often view thirst from the perspective of life and death, because our physical thirst isn’t such a big problem to satisfy. Our body, however, views thirst as a critical warning of impending danger. But what exactly are we thirsting for?
John 4, among other things, is a narrative of thirst. It is the tale of woman seeking to satisfy a present need. There’s an immense amount of great knowledge found in this story, but today, we’re just going to view it from the perspective of her thirst. She identified a need. She was thirsty for water, but in the pursuit of a drink, she came face to face with the Son of God!
Humans are ill-equipped to handle need. Frankly, we’re ill-equipped to handle satisfaction, as well. My point is this…when we determine that we have a need or desire, we quickly become dissatisfied with our present life until that need or desire is quenched. Moreover, when we do finally satisfy ourselves by attaining that which we desire, it doesn’t take long for that satisfaction to become disenchantment. Most of the things that we long for, the things we’re sure will satisfy us forever, only entertain our senses for a brief season before we are again in the pursuit of something better. It’s as if we can never be happy. Regardless of the monetary value, the rarity, or the tenured wait we had to endure to attain our prize, once it is in our possession, it seems to lose the enchanted luster it possessed on the store shelf, the car lot, or the internet page. Even through the dissatisfaction, we continually thirst for more.
Just as this woman traveled to Jacob’s Well for water to satisfy her thirst, we also dig wells that we hope will bring eternal satisfaction. We visit these wells often. We place our hope and trust in these wells, and we never seem to reach the obvious conclusion that, regardless of what they offer to us, these wells will never produce a product that will eternally satisfy our thirst.
We can dig wells of wealth, hoping that our monetary resources will fund our satisfaction. We can dig wells of materialism, thinking that we can acquire enough ‘things’ to be satisfied. We can dig wells of relationship, trying desperately to find satisfaction in someone else. Sadly, many will dig wells of substance abuse, alcohol, pornography, and violence. All of these wells are visited by people who have a recurring thirst for something that only provides temporary satisfaction. Yet, they continue to make the journey to the same well again and again, and they will continue to realize the same unsatisfactory result...continued thirst, inescapable thirst.
Our satisfaction, when placed in the weak and decaying hands of earthly treasure, is at best fleeting. Satisfaction placed in the hands of others is subject to profound and frequent disappointments associated with any human relationship. Satisfaction grounded in substance abuse, alcohol, and pornography is as damaging as it is superficial. All of these things lead us away from real satisfaction. They are diversionary by nature, and they only seem to create greater need.
We often view satisfaction as a journey…a journey to seek, conquer, spend, consume and collect our way into a great life. I would agree that satisfaction is a journey of sorts, but I would also view satisfaction as a destination. That destination is grounded in truth. Arrival at that destination will, in itself, be the start of another, much greater journey. The destination to which I’m referring is God. Specifically, I’m referring to a true, intimate, growing, and consistent relationship with our Creator through Christ Himself.
We will never truly be satisfied by the offerings of this world. At the very best, they are only temporary, and most are only temporal, or specifically ‘of the world.’ Until we establish the mindset that our real satisfaction is grounded in our relationship with God, we will never experience anything more than fleeting joy and peace from the things of this world.
To be truly satisfied, we have to understand the source of our identity.
Our identity and righteousness are both a product of Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
In Christ, we are a new creation, and we are a creation that should derive our satisfaction from the relationship we possess with God Almighty through the redemptive blood of Jesus. We have been redefined! The “old” this verse is referring stretches way beyond our personal redemption from sin; it should extend to a new way of thinking as well. Because “the new has come” into our life, we should think with a new mind, live with a new and renewed sense of purpose, and we should seek a new satisfaction that is grounded, not in sin, but in the relationship and promises of Christ Himself.
No longer should our hope and satisfaction come from wealth or flawed relationships with people. We should not seek to be ‘satisfactorily-amused’ by the fleeting things of earth, but we should long to be eternally comforted and content in Christ by engulfing our lives in the will of God.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
– Colossians 3:3 (ESV)
It is only in that relationship, hiding ourselves in Christ, that we will ever truly find peaceful satisfaction that is not based in greed or envy. And, it is only in that relationship where we will experience God’s best…something which cannot be reproduced here on earth.
Our satisfaction does not lie in ourselves. The thirst that we experience comes from a dissatisfaction with the very best that the world has to offer. It possibly comes from the very best that religion has to offer, or the church has to offer. That thirst can only be satisfactorily quenched by a strong and growing relationship with God, through Christ. So when you come to your manmade well seeking a drink…be sure to look for Christ. I assure you that He will be there waiting to engage you in a conversation of relevance.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!