Please give me a child
The passage in John 4:7-42 tells the story of the Samaritan woman who went to draw water from Jacob’s well at midday as part of her normal daily routine but instead met the Messiah as he was resting by the well. Her life was completely changed by their encounter although her story of transformation required two major components: Jesus’ power and love for her and her willingness to examine her life and long held beliefs. Reading carefully, we can see how she progressed in the way she viewed herself.
She initially expressed surprise that Jesus, as a Jew, should speak to her, a Samaritan woman. Her statement was driven by the cultural and religious differences both the Jews and the Samaritans had at that time toward each other. By saying that she was a Samaritan and a woman, she confused her identity with her destiny. Her real identity was as a woman created in God’s image made to glorify his name through her God given gifts and talents.
While she sees being a Samaritan woman as a reason to prevent having a meaningful interaction between her and Jesus, he does not see it that way. These same reasons she presented to Jesus are the very reasons that qualified her to be the perfect messenger for what was going to take place, not only in her personal life but also for her entire city.
Jesus engaged her with great respect for her intelligence and ability to talk about deep theological issues. He then presented to her a new era of God’s grace and the access we have to a deeper relationship with God through Jesus.
Growing up in Iraq, as I did, the culture places women under a lot of pressure fighting for not only our rights, but also for our value and worth. As women, we have the tendency to find our fulfillment through what we can offer and do for others and not based on who we are as human beings.
I struggled for many years in finding my identity, I confused my identity with my status. Not being able to conceive a child became who I was, a barren woman. Being a barren, divorced, widowed or single woman is a stigma in my culture.
Because I didn’t understand how valuable I was in God’s eyes, I was broken and ashamed which pushed me into isolation and depression for many years. I was like the Samaritan woman when she said “Sir, give me this living water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming back here to draw water.” I thought “please give me a child, so I will have my dignity back as a woman.”
After I came to the United States, I was surprised to find out that people didn’t ask me why I was childless or offer suggestions of how I could remedy the situation. This gave me the freedom to explore new possibilities for my life and to not focus on my physical limitations, which I did not create or even choose for myself. I started imagining my life in new and different ways. I ended up pursuing further education which greatly impacted my life.
In studying at a Christian university, I understood the concept of grace for the first time in my life, even though I had been a believer for many years and had held top leadership positions in Christian service. I still have a very limited understanding of grace but putting aside all the barriers my culture has placed upon me, I am able to see the love God has for me as his daughter bearing his image.
My goal is to help women to value themselves and realize how precious they are in God’s eyes. One of the objectives behind The Wellness Center is to help women find the meaningful life that they were created to experience through a relationship with God. One way I can do that is to share my journey of healing. I always tell the women I counsel just how much God loves us and that he has a plan for each one of our lives.
When Jesus said to the woman, “Go, call your husband and come back,” he didn’t say that to shame her but to help her identify the real need in her life. His genuine love and respect helped her to wrestle with long held cultural and theological beliefs. He invited her to let go of the barriers that had bound her for her entire life.
In response to Jesus’ request that she return with her husband, notice that she said, “I have no husband.” After five husbands she still felt unfulfilled and couldn’t see her worth. Other people may seek fulfillment and value through the perfect job, a newer and more updated home or perhaps a college degree. They believe if they only have that one thing they value above all else, their lives would find fulfillment.
The Samaritan woman’s transformation occurred when she realized that happiness and fulfillment do not come through relationships or material possessions, but only through worshiping God.
Her testimony was “come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” She is publicly declaring that she finally found her true worth in Jesus, because he knew everything about her past, yet still loved her. She found grace and acceptance in him and that was what made her testimony so powerful.