As we launch into Advent and the Christmas season, I hope you’ll enjoy this post from my friend Ginger Kolbaba (See the end of this post to learn more about her and her books). Ginger is an experienced writer and editor who has made her mark on Christian media with various publications, including Marriage Partnership and Today’s Christian Woman. She’s also smart, and I hope you’ll enjoy her insights in this post.
Several years ago my mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital with leg cramps. After the medical team ran tests, they discovered she was extremely low in potassium and they administered the mineral and then they severely limited her water intake so that it wouldn’t wash away what they’d given her. The only problem was that she was thirty. Seriously thirsty.
When she continually pleaded for a drink, I could see and feel her agony. She had been deprived of that which she desperately needed to quench her dry mouth.
“I’m so thirsty!” She would beg over and over for just a sip, something to take away her suffering.
How often I have experienced that same need. Sometimes I’ve longed for something to alleviate my physical anguish. Sometimes I’ve yearned for a way to quench the parched landscape of my mind or my soul. I’ve needed that soothing comfort that water provides.
As we prepare for this holiday season and the new year and the unknown of what it brings, I’ve found myself not going to the familiar birth passages in the Bible that announce Christ’s arrival, but rather to the passages that focus on the end of his life. In particular, I’ve been drawn to John 19:28. As Jesus hung on the sinner’s cross, bearing the sorrow and wrongs of our world, he uttered an interesting request.
Of everything he could have spoken in the final moments of his life—the moments that would be recorded and preserved for centuries to come—he chose not to offer any profound spiritual teaching or reiterate the mysteries of God, or even remind his followers that he was dying so that they could live eternally.
Rather, he said simply, “I am thirsty.”
“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’” (NIV).
As Jesus neared his final moments on earth, he had been hanging on the cross for six hours. His loss of blood and anguish would have caused intense thirst. So he cried out for a drink. He needed something to ease his condition.
And he uttered something so . . . human.
Often we may think so much about Christ’s deity that we forget about his humanity. Jesus, the Son of God, wrapped himself in a blanket of flesh. And in that flesh he suffered—just as any other human being suffers. Just as my mother-in-law suffered. Just as you and I suffer.
Nothing better illustrates how like us he is than to cry out for a drink. Even his final prophetic fulfillment was very human in nature.
Whenever I become tempted to think that God—who is so great and holy and perfect—could not possibly understand the anguish that I am experiencing, I’m reminded of Jesus. Jesus—the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace—understands our spiritual thirst and stands ready and willing to quench it.
But joy of joys and wonder of wonders! He is also “the child” whom to us was born, the Christmas child who grew to be a man who experienced physical thirst. He understands what it means to be fully human.
When we face pain, anguish, upheaval, failed expectations, heartache, grief, and even something as basic and simple as thirst for a glass of water, we do not have to experience it alone. We can trust and rely on Jesus, who understands exactly what we are going through. We do not have a distant Savior who cannot relate to our suffering.
As Gregory of Nazianzus stated, “That which He has not assumed He has not healed.” We can trust him to speak knowingly and victoriously not just into our spiritual needs, but into our physical ones as well, and to quench our thirst with his living water.
Ginger Kolbaba is an author and speaker who focuses on clinging to joy in every moment. Her most recent book is Your Best Happily Ever After: Loving God’s Beautiful Story for Your Life. Visit her website at www.gingerkolbaba.com, her Facebook page at GingerKolbabaauthor, or on Twitter @gingerkolbaba.
© 2016 Amy Simpson.