The Craving I Overlooked
I’ve been incredibly thirsty lately. The dry-as-a-desert, guzzle-until-you-can’t-drink-anymore kind of thirst. But though I’ve been drinking glass after glass of icy cold water, it never seems to be enough.
At first, I wasn’t sure why. I’m not pregnant, and I haven’t started a new exercise routine that’s heavy on cardio. I don’t live somewhere warm—Minnesota is a frozen tundra, this time of year—and my body naturally runs more cold than hot, anyway.
It took me about a week to figure out the source of my newfound thirst: I’ve been fasting from sugar. This is the second year in a row that I’ve taken a break from refined sugar for 40 days. On a practical level, it’s a way to reset my body after all the cookies and caramels and chocolate-dipped pretzels I consumed ad nauseum from the holidays. However, it’s also a spiritual fast, one where I find myself leaning in to my Savior, preparing the way for Lent. Rather than finding comfort in sugar, I’m seeking it in Him.
Once the mask of sugar fell away, I realized that I’ve been thirsty all along. My body has likely been dehydrated for a very long time because, rather than giving it the healthy water it needs, I’ve been confusing my thirst for hunger and eating meaningless calories instead.
My body has been desperate for water, and I didn’t even notice.
The spiritual parallel is hard to miss. How many times have I given myself the temporary satiety of sugar—or shopping, or wine, or novel-reading, or whatever else I use to comfort myself—when I’m actually parched for living water? Those small satisfactions can only satisfy the symptom, never the cause. I’m ashamed to realize how many times I’ve settled for the surface substitutions of this world rather than delving in to the heart issues of my spirit.
Living water is mentioned several times in the Bible, but Jesus first mentions it in his encounter with the Samaritan woman:
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water. …Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:10, 13-14 (NLT)
I love how The Message phrases John 4:10, “…If you knew the generosity of God and who I am…” We serve a generous God, one who doesn’t skimp to shower us with love, mercy, and forgiveness. All the living water we could ever desire is ours for the taking.
What temporary comforts are you turning to? A busy schedule or too much time scrolling social media can mask the deep hurts and struggles we face just as easily as my sugar addiction can. Jesus wants to not only address the symptom but provide the cure.
Lord, thank you for the living water you graciously provide. Help us to recognize the things in our lives that are masking our thirst for you. Let us find our satisfaction in the love, grace, and comfort you provide. Amen.
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