Most of us know the story of Jack and Jill really well. Maybe it’s a stretch to call it a parable – it’s a kid’s poem that dates back to the 18th century – but hear me out. Many of us learned it as a nursery rhyme when we were little kids. You know how it goes…

“Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.”

Apparently, there’s a young couple named Jack and Jill. They were thirsty and they wanted something to drink so they grabbed a bucket and climbed a hill where there was apparently a well. Sadly, somewhere along the way Jack had an accident, fell down the hill, and suffered some type of head injury from the fall. Jill comes tumbling down the same hill; no report on her injuries.

We don’t know much else about Jack and Jill. The story doesn’t explain why Jack fell down the hill, or why Jill was caught up in the chain reaction. Jack could have tripped; we all do from time to time. His foot may have caught a root on the trail and sent him flailing downward. Or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention and wandered off the edge of the cliff and Jill, following blindly, was caught in the wake of Jack’s mistake. Maybe Jill wanted out of the marriage and pushed Jack off the cliff for the insurance money. Make up your own details.

What we do know is this: Jack and Jill were looking for something to satisfy their thirst, so they climbed a hill to find something to satisfy that thirst, and on the quest to have their thirst satisfied an accident took place and the result left them both lying at the bottom of a hill injured, bruised, and I assume, still thirsty.

Sound familiar? Many of us could replace their names with ours and this could be our story. “I was thirsty, I went in search of something to satisfy my thirst. I made a mistake – or someone else made a mistake – and along the way I got hurt, and I’m not only still thirsty, now I’m broken.” You went in search of something to satisfy your thirst, to fill a void in your life, to make you feel complete and give you purpose. But what happened to Jack and Jill happened to you.

There’s a story in the Bible about a woman who was thirsty. So she took her bucket and went to the well (for the purposes of this blog post, let’s pretend the well is on a hill…just humor me). But on her journey, she encountered Jesus. He asked the woman for a drink, and to say that she was surprised would be an understatement. You see, Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan: mortal enemies. If a Jew saw a Samaritan walking down the street, he would either beat the Samaritan up, or at the very least cross over and walk by on the other side. So the woman is startled and shocked that Jesus would ask her for a drink.

So she asks him, “Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied (I’m paraphrasing), “Lady, if you only knew who I am, you’d be asking me for a drink of a whole different kind of water…”

We go on to learn that this woman has been married a few times. Five to be exact. And now, Jesus reveals, she’s living with a man she isn’t married to. She keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over with the same results, which is the definition of insanity. Because of her mistakes and her past, she ends up with a really hard life.

She’s injured, beat up, rejected, and feeling broken. She’s thirsty, but has no idea where to find the water that will satisfy her thirst. We know that, as a Samaritan, she would never have been welcomed or allowed to worship at the Jewish temple. She was an outsider, alone and with nowhere to turn.

Ever felt that way? Odds are that whether you’ve never been inside a church building before or even if you’re in a seat in church every weekend, you’ve felt this way at some point. Feeling empty, looking for a way to fill the void in your life.

We try to fill these voids with money, possessions, alcohol, drugs, relationships, sex….we’re driven by a feeling of inadequacy and a need to feel whole. And there sits Jesus, at the well, right in front of us, saying, “If you only knew…”

Maybe you’ve tried going to church, tried opening yourself up to being part of that kind of community, but you got burned. It happens to almost everyone to some degree.

Maybe you did the burning.

It hurts even worse when it happens in the context of the church, because you’d think that’s where you should be safe. But to borrow some profound words from Brandon Lake, “Sometimes your worst enemies turn out to be your brothers.” I’ve been there. I’ve been hurt by people who were like brothers and sisters to me, and I’ve also done my share of hurting. That’s a pain that sticks.

The unfortunate part of being around people is that we hurt each other. I’ll bet you know what I mean.

If that’s the case, you should know you aren’t alone. The good news is that God can heal your wounds and give you the strength to forgive the person who has hurt you. They may not even know they hurt you. Or maybe they said you hurt them, but it sure feels the other way around to you. Often we wound others without realizing what we’ve done. I’ve been guilty of that, and more than likely you have too.

Forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing to do. It has been said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison hoping for the other person to suffer. When we release the pain that we hold, it’s like stepping out of a hot room into the cool summer breeze and taking a deep breath. You feel liberated and free.

As much as you’re able, a little at a time, shift your focus from looking inward at your own pain to looking outward at how you can bless someone else. There’s healing to be found in learning to view your pain as an opportunity to learn to empathize with someone else who’s hurting, and to leverage it as an open door to share the hope of Jesus..

The water that can truly satisfy your thirst is only offered by Jesus. HE is what you need. You will be hurt along the way. That sucks. I wish it wasn’t that way. You’ll feel damaged. You’ll battle resentment. It’ll be harder to forgive than you’ll want to admit. Focus on Jesus and pray for the faith to trust Him for the strength to move beyond the pain of your past.

Maybe you don’t know what to say at all. That’s ok. Seriously, it’s ok. Romans 8:26-27 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” That means even when you don’t know what to say, God understands. He knows your heart.

Maybe you simply pray, “Jesus, I don’t know how I’ll ever heal or move past this. Help me believe you can lead me there. Give me the strength to forgive.”

I can promise you this: it’s hard to stay angry or bitter with someone when you’re earnestly praying for them. It won’t be easy, but God can give you the strength. You can’t change your past, but God can heal your broken heart and your wounded soul.

Take a step. Meet Jesus at the well.