13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
This passage could be interpreted as God giving people what we need, as God rescuing us from earthly problems like drought.
I see it as meaning something different, though. I don’t believe that God intervenes in such simple and superficial ways, at least not most of the time. I don’t think God typically stops hurricanes (or creates them) or cures people from cancer (or gives it to them). I do not believe that God miraculously gives water to those stranded in the desert in this passage or in our world today.
I do believe, however, that this passage means that God is unconditionally present within our hearts and in the hearts of all those around us (this is partly what the Trinity means to me).
As animals, we have needs to survive like hunger and thirst. But as humans, made in the image of God, these things are not enough for us. We need more. We thirst for love. We thirst for God. We crave spiritual unity with our creator. And if we cannot admit this or do not understand it as such, we search for something else to quench our “thirst.” Drugs, alcohol, sex, overeating, dieting, accumulating nice things, gaining power in our careers, self-serving relationships… aren’t these all just attempts to quench our thirst for what we really long for?
It is disappointing that the Christmas season is all about giving our loved ones more belongings that they do not need. What if we focused on quenching our thirst with God instead, through acts of service in our communities? What if we focused on spending our free time in prayer both together with loved ones and alone in the company of God?
When we stop expecting God to put streams in the desert and miraculously heal people with terminal cancers, maybe we will notice that He has already come into the world and quenched our every sinful thirst with grace and selfless love. Even after such a feat, He remains present, pouring love into the universe, giving and forgiving no matter how many times we forget to do the same.
What more is there to want for Christmas?