I’ve been nursing a dull headache all morning. I don’t get many headaches, so when I do, I can usually pretty quickly figure out what’s causing it. My first thought is always, have I had my coffee? If not, then problem solved. Lately though, I’ve been getting headaches because I’m not drinking enough water. Nursing mothers require a pretty crazy amount of water, and I just always forget that. Every night I go to bed just a little bit parched, and I think, I really must remember to drink my water tomorrow. But come morning, I drink my orange juice and then my coffee, and I feel pretty okay, and I forget again. Every so often it catches up with me, and I have to have a two- or three-day water-thon to get feeling normal again. Today was one of those days.
So this morning I dragged my dull headache to Bible study with me, where, wouldn’t you know it? We were studying, among others, this passage in Isaiah 41. “17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. ”
Of course the fulfillment of this prophecy has and will come on several levels, but looking at its partial fulfillment in Christ lead us to this well-known story in John 4, and these verses in particular: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
Now I don’t have a lot of experience with thirst. I’ve been told it is a painful and debilitating thing to be truly in need of water. But I do know that if I can have a headache after just a few days of not drinking as much water as my body would like me to drink, then my body must really need water. Yet, as I start to feel the symptoms of this thirst, I often look to other things first. I crave coffee when I feel a headache coming. I reach for a snack when my mouth starts to feel dry.
And isn’t that *just* how I am with the Lord sometimes? ‘Hmm… I’m feeling lonely/worried/overwhelmed today. Maybe I should… pick up my Bible? Call out to God in prayer?’ Those are almost never my first thoughts, if I’m honest. ‘I know!’ I think. ‘I’ll call my mom/ask a friend for advice/play on the computer for a while!’ And sometimes, those things help a little. I feel better. I can go on. But I haven’t addressed the real need, and sooner or later, I’ll have to realize, once again, that God has been waiting for me all along with a lovely, tall glass of water that is exactly what my soul needs.
I am so thankful for the picture and reminder God has given us of our own spiritual needs in our daily, urgent physical needs. The Bible is so full of imagery comparing God to water, to bread, to air! There’s also a beautiful picture here of God comforting His people the way that a nursing mother can comfort her child. If you’ve ever nursed a baby after leaving her with grandmom and a couple of bottles overnight, you know what that kind of blissful comfort and satisfaction looks like! What if with each drink, each meal, each breath, I remembered the God who gave me those things, and that my need for Him is greater than my need for any of those things? It might just whet my appetite for the only One who really satisfies.