In the natural and physical sense, what does it take to make a person thirsty? Is it a hot day? Is it a lot of exercise and sweating? Is it working long hours in the hot sun? Is it partaking of a salty, spicy meal? Is it a time spent in the desert on a quest of some sort, where you might be deprived of water?
I would offer that, although these things may define why someone is in need of water, it is the awareness that he is thirsty that makes a person know that he needs water. He must have the feeling, the perception of a need for water. It is the connecting with the thirst that calls for the water. “I need water! I must have it, or I will perish.” It is passionate thirst that causes a seeking for water. Something inside registers that survival is at risk if I do not have water.
It is the same idea in the spiritual sense. The need must be awakened, perceived. Jesus reminds us, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Satisfaction follows craving for spiritual truth and reality! Might the craving be the cry - the deep inner prayer to God, even before we are aware of it - for the water of life?
David cried out, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) This is passionate thirst.
“… As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) May we so thirst for Him!
He invites, “… ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. To the one who believes in Me, it is just as the Scripture has said: Streams of living water will flow from within him. He was speaking about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive…” (John 7:37-39)
Could it be that all other named and unnamed “thirsts” and cravings may be but shadows of this ultimate thirst for the Spirit of God Himself? For as we discover how these lesser thirsts never satisfy, and may even create more thirst, eventually we are led to awareness that He draws us ever toward Himself, the only Source that can quench and sustain us in this “dry and weary land”.
Let us hold up our dry, empty cup and receive what He promises, "And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)