March 25, 2011

March 25: Water for your pain

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By Reuben Sancken, a senior Bible and religion major from Tolono, Ill.
SCRIPTURE: John 4:5-42 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well and asked for a drink of water. Public interaction between men and women, and Jews and Samaritans, were usually avoided in his day. He could have gotten his own water or waited to ask for a drink from his disciples. Instead, in his radical way, he chose to spread the Gospel by stretching the cultural norms. The Samaritan women openly questions Jesus’ proclamation of his “living water.” It is only when he names the things that have alienated her from participation in her community that she believes in the Gospel.

There are times in life when we feel as if we are in a waiting room, unable to define what it is that causes our pain. Other times we know what the pain is, but no one acknowledges it. When I have experienced pain in my life, I have discovered that naming is the first step in the process of healing. Jesus provides help for us in identifying and treating our hurts, but often it is hard to see this grace on our own. God uses people in our community of family, friends and church to identify the sources of pain in our lives.

After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman proclaimed the Gospel to her community. They believed in Jesus as a result of her witness, but she was only a messenger of the Gospel. Their interaction with the woman led them to seek Jesus out for themselves. Members of our community can help us to see God’s healing work, but like the Samaritan woman they are only messengers. God knows our pain and always is waiting to help bring healing.

SCRIPTURE:John 4:5-42 (NRSV)
5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, “I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” 27Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30They left the city and were on their way to him. 31Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

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Comments (11)

  1. defining our pain is the start of healing but like the woman at the well we must then move on. Rueben you are proclaiming the Gospel just as this woman did.

    Karen March 25, 2011 |
  2. Reuben, I particularly liked the application you made regarding healing in the life of the Samaritan woman: that God uses people in our community of faith to help us name the hurt…as a necessary step to healing. Thanks for your insight.

    Patricia March 25, 2011 |
  3. Profound thoughts about pain and messages and messengers! These thoughts invite further discussion and exploration! Thank You!

    Jim Miller (James N. '53) March 25, 2011 |
  4. Thank you for this thoughtul meditation. I will re-read this several times today. I need this Word from Jesus just as the Samaritan woman did so many years ago.

    Joy March 25, 2011 |
  5. Thank you for the challenge of sowing and reaping. We need to be reminded of our responsibility where ever we find ourselves.

    Mary K.Mishler March 25, 2011 |
  6. This is a wonderful story and best told in it’s entirety as you told it. Jesus not only met the one person but her whole community welcomed him there where he stayed for 2 days with them, teaching them who he was and why he had come into the world. It is so curious that she left her water jug by the well and returned to the city to tell her neighbors about this man whom she had met. Does this mean that she truly accepted the “Living water” and forgot all about the physical H20? Were these Samaritans the first converts to his teachings? Was he the prophet not without honor save in his own country that we have heard of to some, and The Messiah to others?

    John Hackman March 25, 2011 |
  7. Thanks, Reuben, for validating the waiting room of pain and the hope that we have of being able to be released from that place!

    Barbara A. Clark March 25, 2011 |
  8. Thank you for your insight of the first step in any healing we experience. “Name the pain”. ” Name the sin” may also be an apt word for some of my pain. If I don’t admit that I have the pain or sin I will be stuck forever in the mire. Thanks be to God for the living water.

    Betty March 25, 2011 |
  9. Thank you, Reuben, for reminding me that God uses people to identify my pain/s. And they help me, too. May the dear Lord make use of me, too. Blessed are they, and blessed are you, dear Reuben

    Mervyn Carapiet March 25, 2011 |
  10. Very insightful! This is the second time this week I’ve been inspired by thoughts on this story. It is interesting to consider why Jesus brought up this woman’s past and current sin. How encouraging that he did it not to condemn her, but to make a way for her to be exposed and then embrace the Healer and Savior. We have so much to learn from Jesus’ example.

    Ruth March 28, 2011 |
  11. This has long been one of the Bible verses I use over and over with myself and with others. There is a healer and a savior in all of us but too often we forget this. Today has been difficult for me and reading this was such a good reminder. Christ makes room for each of us if we will only hear. I pray that the Lord will lead me to be a light to others and in that I will be healed.
    Thanks be to God.

    Donna

    Donna Bohlcke March 29, 2011 |