The importance of water in our lives

Water is a necessary element for life. Without water, all life on earth would wither and die. Scientific evidence shows that life on earth began in the oceans and only millions of years later did that life migrate to dry land.

May 16, 2014

By Daniel S. Mulhall
Water is a necessary element for life. Without water, all life on earth would wither and die. Scientific evidence shows that life on earth began in the oceans and only millions of years later did that life migrate to dry land. The human body is made up mostly of water and we need to drink water every day to keep from dehydrating and dying.

Water plays a major role in the Jewish (and thus, also Christian) story of faith. One of the most significant events in Jewish history was when God led the Hebrews through the Red Sea to escape from the Egyptians. Through God's actions, the Hebrews passed unharmed through the waters while the Egyptians who followed were destroyed.

Christians re-enact this event at baptism when we go under the water to die to sin in order to be reborn into new life as children of God.

Thirsting for water is a frequent biblical theme, appearing numerous times throughout the Bible. Sometimes this refers to a physical thirsting for water, but many other times the reference to thirst and the only water that can quench it describes the human longing for God.

Just as a parched person thirsts for water, the human spirit thirsts for God’s grace. Only God can provide this necessity.

Thirst appears in the Bible in Exodus 17:3. As the Hebrews fled Egypt and travelled across the desert, they complained that God rejected them, leaving them to die in an arid land with no water. “Why then did you bring us up out of Egypt? To have us die of thirst with our children and our livestock?”

In Judges 15:18, Samson, after working hard to slay the enemies of the Hebrews, cries out for water so that he will not die of thirst. For the Hebrews in the desert, and for Samson, their thirst is a sign that God has abandoned them, their longing for water a sign of their doubt in God’s faithfulness.

In both cases, God miraculously provided saving water to quench this thirst. Stories such as these can be found throughout the Bible, which is, in many ways, a testament to both human lack of trust and the faithfulness of God. The psalms are rich in imagery describing how longing for God is similar to thirsting for water. We hear the phrases, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God,” from Psalm 42:3 and in Psalm 63:2, “For you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.”

Unless one lives in an area with limited rainfall, these passages might have little meaning. Yet we’ve all been thirsty at one point or another and can understand the desperation of something to drink when we’ve gone without water for a while.

When there is plenty of water and everything is lush and green, we think little of water. However, when water is limited, we learn its importance.

The image of a parched land is telling in a number of ways. First, plants will not grow in very dry soil. Second, the soil itself is at risk. Sometimes it cracks and won’t absorb water, and at other times it breaks into small particles of dust and blows away. Both images describe effectively what happens to the human spirit without God.

Isaiah 41:17 offers a wonderful image: “The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the wilderness into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water.”

In the beatitudes Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus announces that those who give drink to the thirsty give drink to him, and thus will be found righteous. Here we see the act of caring for those in need, especially of giving water to those who thirst. Giving this type of water is considered a God-like act. When we do simple things for others, we do what God would do.

In the Gospel of John (4:13-15) Jesus proclaims himself the living water and those who drink of the kind of water he offers to the world will never thirst again. In John 6:35, Jesus repeats the message and says that “whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

The reference here is clear: Just as God provided water to the Hebrews in the desert, life-giving water now comes through Jesus, the Christ of whom Isaiah foretold. It is ironic then in John 19:28 for Jesus, as he is dying, to say “I thirst.” The living water incarnate also must acknowledge his dependence upon the Father.

In today’s world it is all too easy to become spiritually parched and wait too long for water to quench our thirst. The Christian response to this is that water still flows abundantly for all who believe.

Source: CNS

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