a woman prays

I am exhausted. As a humanitarian actor, a grants manager, a program director, a senior director providing immediate, long-term and development assistance in forgotten communities, my work is merely to provide band aids that we keep applying and re-applying hoping it will stick long enough to heal and grow anew. Just when we think we are making a difference in the lives of women and girls, the pandemic struck. 

Just when we think we are winning the fight against hunger and poverty, the war in Ukraine struck. For the first time in years gender-based violence is on the rise and hunger is on the rise. We are not progressing, we are regressing.

I would like to share a brief excerpt from the bible which I think yall know -- Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman. Note: I may embellish the conversation as I imagined it happened.

5 Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacobs well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ummm… 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.[a])

10 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.”

11 (excuse me) Sir,” the woman said, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 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?”

13 Jesus answered, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”

15 The woman said to him, (or really) Sir, give me this water so that I wont get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 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.”

19 Sir,” the woman said, I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Woman,” Jesus replied, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

In the text we find Jesus exhausted from the journey and the Samaritan woman is also exhausted. How do I know that she is tired? Well, imagine in the middle of the day, the sun beating down on you and youre just minding your own business trying to get water, then a random Jewish stranger asked for a drink. Can you just imagine the Samaritan woman giving Jesus the look like excuse me, you talking to me?” “What is this living water youre talking about when you dont even have a bucket to draw water from this very special well made by our very important ancestor Jacob?”

There must have been something in the tone in Jesusvoice that calmed the exhausted Samaritan. Its going to be ok. A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. True worship is not tied or attached to sacred locations, but the genuine worship is by spirit and truth.”

Can you imagine in a short time, Jesus was able to shift the Samaritans condition from exhaustion to excitement? And thats what happened, the moment she returned to her town and informed people that this Jesus dude could be the Messiah. For the first time probably in a long time, the Samaritan woman experienced HOPE.

I see hope and excitement in many people that we meet in our line of work. Im not saying we are the Messiah giving out hope and excitement everywhere we go but if they move from exhaustion to excitement and hope, maybe I could too.

Palestinian refugees playing music all the way up to an 11” in a camp in Lebanon – that is HOPE

Syrian refugee women establishing an elementary school for their children in Egypt – that is HOPE

South Sudanese women recovering from fistula surgery in Juba – that is HOPE

As I finish my reflection, I wonder if we can take 30 seconds, to acknowledge that yes we are tired but as we take in deep breaths lets imagine the living water igniting our spirt and holding our truth.

I would like us to end in a prayer from Psalm 25:5

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my Savior, & my hope is in you all day long.


“Working Together” hones collaboration to address the needs of the world (WCC news release 3 May 2023)

About the author :

Marie Anne Sliwinski is program director for Disaster Response and Sustainable Development at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).


The impressions expressed in the blog posts are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.