Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~ John 4:13-14
Discontent, it’s a state of being that can spread like a virus. People with an abundance of resources grumble, complain and are never satisfied. Sometimes, they have a legitimate complaint and are longing to be heard. Other times, it’s what they do, over and over again.
I had a Middle Eastern friend, Amin, who grew up in Jordan. He was my first exposure to the Middle Eastern culture and worldview. It was the late 80’s and we were college students, working the night shift at a local restaurant. He was the fry cook and I was the line manager. At the end of our shift, usually around 2:30 in the morning, we would sit back with other restaurant workers to talk under the star lit sky. One night, Amin was asked what he thought of America and Americans. His first response was glowing, but after a little while he revealed a deeper insight with his Jordanian accent, “You Americans are very good… very good. Everything in this country is… shiny. You have Disney and Mickey Mouse. America is like one big Disney where everybody wants to be Mickey Mouse.”
We laughed about his analogy. And then he took it further. “In Jordan, we have no Disney. Nobody even know who Mickey Mouse is. In Jordan, there’s trash, dirt, sickness and young men with big guns. But it’s okay. We manage to be happy. Here, you have Disney and shiny homes, but people are still not happy. Everyone always complain, and I just don’t understand. Maybe it’s because you want Disney everywhere and life is not Disney.”
I thank God life is not Disney. I’m not sure I could handle hearing “It’s a Small World After All” on a continuous loop. Yet, Amin’s observation rings true, at least partially. There’s a certain layer of discontent that runs through our towns and communities.
We can blame our discontent on the economy, politics, low hanging pants, or even Disney, but the pastor in me can’t help but think that maybe it has to do with those living waters Jesus was referring to. In John’s gospel, Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman by the well. Imagine the conversation if it were in modern times, in Disney. What if he was talking to a pink faced, over fed tourist at the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant?
Everyone who drinks from this soda fountain will thirst again in two hours. But whoever drinks from the water I offer, the living water, will never thirst again. Because the water I give will create a spring of water that bubbles up to life eternal.
Obviously, it’s all a metaphor, but I love it. Jesus is talking about developing a faith that transforms us into people with abundant love and hope. A spring of hope inside us that moves us from discontent to joy, from grumbling to praising. Our lives may be far from perfect, with nobody singing Disney tunes, but we can choose to see all the blessings that surround us. We can choose Jesus and become a spring from which others draw hope.
During this time when we search for hope, I pray that we become the people who choose to see the bright side to everything. May God instill in us a spring of love and hope that moves people from discontent to joy, from grumbling to praising. In the name of the One who offers us the living waters, Jesus our risen savior. Amen.