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Will I Always Be Like This?

Will I Always Be Like This?

When something we want to be different has been the same for so long, there’s a question we ask and unfortunately, many of us think we already know the answer. Here’s the question and it’s also the title of the teaching series we’re beginning today:

Will it always be like this? 

We ask some version of this question about so many things in our lives.

Will our marriage always seem less than what we hoped for?

Will I always have a bad temper?

Will I always be passed over for the promotion?

Will evil people in power continue to profit through oppression of others?

Will I always feel far from God?

Will anxiety and depression be with me forever?

Will the pain ever subside?

Will our nation always be this divided and polarized?

There are two additional questions I want to address throughout this series:

Can I actually have hope for things to be different?

Can I actually have hope if things remain the same?

Here’s the specific question I want to address in this first message:

Will I always be like this?

We ask this question when we feel stuck.

We ask it when nothing seems to ever get better.

We ask it when we give into a harmful habit or addiction once again.

We ask this question when we’ve been single for longer than we ever wanted. Don’t miss next week as I’m going to give a message about what we do when we’re missing the relationships we used to have or the ones we’ve never had.

It’s not fun asking the “Will I always be like this?” question. But when we quit asking this question, it might mean that we’ve given up on all hope that we could be any different. This is exactly where we find the person that I want to teach about today.

John 4:4-18 Now he had to go through Samaria. So he 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.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. “Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Her desires and dreams are things of the past. Surely her life started with aspirations and high hopes. But somewhere along the way, she did some things that she can never recover from. And people did some things to her that have permanently left an impression on her. And her hope began to shrink until it was non-existent. 

Maybe you know what it’s like to have had dreams. You used to lie awake at night because you were imagining all of the wonderful possibilities that were in front of you. You used to live with vision and passion. You knew what you wanted out of life, and you were deadest on getting it.

But something happened. You chose the wrong group of friends. Or you dabbled in something that now has a grip on you and won’t let go. Or your family of origin really messed you up. Or you experienced a mental health crisis that keeps you from being able to give your best in life. 

The Samaritan woman already knew the answer to the “Will I always be like this?” question. And maybe that’s where you are today. You say things like this: It’s just who I am. Life works out for everyone else, but not for me. It will always be this way. I will always be like this. But what if you don’t have to always be like this? 

When Jesus encounters this Samaritan woman, it’s pretty obvious that she is stuck. Her life appears to be one repeating cycle. Whether it’s how she’s treated as a Samaritan. Or how her culture looks down on her for being a woman. Or the pattern she has of going from one man to the next to the next. Or just the daily cycle of getting water when there’s no one else around.

Have you ever been stuck? Are you stuck right now? Is there anything that’s been true about you for so long, that you assume it will always be true about you? I want to show you the things that were true for her and how she assumed they’d always be true for her.

Because of the last two years, some of you are stuck. And while there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to challenge you to come out of it, I care too much about you to let you stay stuck. And better than that, Jesus cares too much about you to let you stay in that condition.

Some of these things were of her own doing and some of them were present because of the people and culture that surrounded her.

I will always be treated as inferior to other people.

Do you know this assumption? Do you have a history of being treated as “less than” because of your race or gender or age or some physical handicap or because of where your from or what neighborhood you live in?

This woman knows what it’s like and she’s come to expect it. She knows what she is and what she’s not. She knows what class she belongs to and which one she’ll never get to be a part of. She’s so well-acquainted with this reality that she says this to Jesus in verse 9, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” And John adds, “For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.”

She is so used to being a victim of sexism and racism that she’s only shocked when it’s not present. Here’s what she was used to. Jews avoided contact with Samaritans. Jewish me did not speak to women in public, not even their wives. Religious male leaders never discussed theological matters with women. 

This woman wasn’t the only one who was surprised that Jesus spoke with her.

John 4:27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking to a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

For maybe the first time in her life, this woman was being treated like the human being that she was, like one who actually bears the image of God. Jesus elevates her by speaking to her and by how he speaks to her.

While we cannot dictate how everyone else sees us, we can find our significance in how Jesus sees us. And as a community, we can make sure to let each other know, “I see you. You are worthy. You are honored. You are enough. There is nothing inferior about you – not your gender, race, age, vocation, socioeconomic status, or anything else. By the end of this scene, it becomes clear that this woman is so valued by the One who matters most…that she seems to not care about what everyone else might think about her. If God is for me, who can be against me?

Here’s the next thing she thought and you might think:

I will never be satisfied with my life.

This woman shows up every day at noon to get the water she will need for that day. And Jesus uses this habit as a metaphor for the deeper things that are happening in her life.

In verse 13 Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.” Of course she understands this. After all, this scientific fact is the reason she keeps showing up day after day. She tells Jesus in verse 15, “Give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

At this response, Jesus decides to fully expose her life. He tells her to go het her husband and she’s like, “Oh I don’t actually have a husband.” No exposure yet, but Jesus doesn’t let her answer end the conversation. “You are right when you say you have no husband. You’ve actually had 5 and the man you’re living with now isn’t your husband.”

She’s been trying to quench her deepest thirst through her relationships with men. I don’t know anything about these men, but it’s obvious they don’t have the ability to satisfy her deeply. We all have this thirst or ache within us. And we all look to something or someone to satisfy our deepest longings. 

What are you currently seeking to satisfy your deepest longings?

Here’s another assumption we have:

Because of who I am or what I’ve done, shame will always be part of my life.

“Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you.” Edward T. Welch, Shame Interrupted

People know parts of her story and she would love to avoid more condemnation. Shame has led her to coming at noon each day, when she thinks no one else will be there. Shame causes us to hide.

“Hiding is the natural response to shame.” Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame

People know parts of her story and she would love to avoid more condemnation. Shame has led her to coming at noon each day, when she thinks no one else will be there. Shame causes us to hide.

“Hiding is the natural response to shame.” Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame

She thinks this will be her story forever. But then she meets Jesus. And she goes from isolation back to community. She moves from hiding her story to going public with her story.

John 4:28-29 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

From not wanting to be known to being fully known by Jesus in a way that sets her completely free. Fully Known, Fully Loved. Fully Exposed, Fully Covered. 

My beliefs about Jesus and myself will never change.

You think you’ve got Jesus figured out. You know he wants nothing to do with you because no one else does. You think that He might want to be close to other people who haven’t done what you’ve done, but that He’s keeping his distance from you. 

In verse 10 Jesus says to 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 you knew what was possible, you would be asking. 

Your beliefs about Jesus determine what you’re willing to ask of Jesus.

And here’s the last assumption she had that many of us have:

I can’t imagine ever having a reason to be filled with hope.

She goes on to tell others to come meet Jesus. Who does that? What must have changed for her? She has found so much hope that she now has hope for the entire town. She has a mission and purpose in life. 

“The attitude typical of the person who lives by fate is one of resignation. The attitude typical of the person who lives by faith is one of hope.” Lewis Smedes, Keeping Hope Alive

She’s no longer resigned to the life she thought she was stuck with forever. The same can be true for you. But you need what she needed – an encounter with Jesus. Fully exposed, fully covered. Come to him to satisfy the deepest longings in your heart. Believe that He can do this for you. Let him free you from a life of inferiority and shame. 

She didn’t know when this day started that her story would be different before she went to sleep that night. Your story can be different too. 

I want to give you space to encounter Jesus this morning. Altar. Prayer with a leader. Feel stuck? Resigned yourself to something? If you knew, you would ask. It’s time to ask!

Faith.

Baptism.

Prayer.

If you knew the gift of God…you would ask…and He would give you living water.

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