Bible Reading: John 4:5-10
Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
‘If all else fails, read the instructions.’ So goes the adage for those assembling flat-pack furniture. And men are renowned (unfairly I think!) for preferring to get lost rather than ask for directions!
Why do we struggle to ask for help? Maybe it’s because of our own insecurity, of not wanting to appear vulnerable, or of not wanting to put on someone else. Whatever the reason, it seems that Jesus had no such insecurities or hang-ups. He was quite happy to ask a stranger for help. In this case it was asking for a drink of water.
Not only was he asking for a drink of water, but he was crossing the racial norms by asking a Samaritan and he was crossing the social norms and asking a woman, a woman who it later emerged had been married five times and was now living with a man who was not her husband.
What would the neighbours think!
Asking for help is good for you. We were never meant to live in isolation, but rather to live in community. Let us not be handicapped by a false sense of pride or inadequacy by not asking for help when we need it.
Asking for help is also affirming for the person we are asking. We all seek affirmation in one way or another, and when we ask someone else for help, we give them the opportunity to feel valued, to contribute their time or their gifts for the good of someone else.
Asking for help also builds relationships and breaks down barriers. Revealing a level of vulnerability of our own makes us less threatening to others and enables us to start conversations and to build a relationship that, as the woman at the well was to discover, can benefit both parties.
And finally, asking for help is good for mission. This conversation of Jesus with a Samaritan woman not only led to her becoming a follower of Jesus, it also led to many of her townsfolk becoming believers as well.
More often than not the Church’s mission is based on offering something to those in need, whether it is food, medicine, or teaching. But the heart of Christian mission is about building relationships with others and helping them to build relationships with God. Let us not miss out on the conversations that arise when we ask someone else for help.
Forgive me, Lord, when I struggle because I am too proud to ask for help.
All who are thirsty