Helping those who hide: Lessons learned from Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.

I recently re-read Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. In doing so, I was struck by how the woman at the well hid from society and wondered how many others are doing the same. I know I can sometimes. How can others help those who hide? How can I help those who hide? How can we show them the hope of Jesus in the midst of their sin and pain?

  1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in hard and uncomfortable places. Seek out those who are hiding. (John 4: 1-6)  In Jesus’s day, Jewish people avoided Samaria at all costs.  Instead of taking a direct route to a place, they would travel around Samaria to avoid it. Instead, Jesus travelled through Samaria.  And not only did he travel through Samaria, but he stopped at a well at midday – the time when the sun was hottest.  Most women would head to the well in the morning or the evening to get water.  The women Jesus meets, however, travelled in the middle of the day to avoid meeting other people.  She was ashamed and afraid to be around others. Who in our midst is trying to hide?  How can we find them and meet them where they are?
  2. Humility builds relationship and relationship brings opportunity to share the living water. (John 4:7-26) Allowing others to serve me is so hard for me. How often does our pride hide some inside hurt? The feeling that if I allow others to serve me, they will see the weakness I am trying so hard to hide. Jesus is not afraid to allow others – even those who were outcast by society – to serve him.  He did this when Mary washed his feet with perfume and he did it in this story.  Jesus started his conversation with this woman by asking her for a drink. He allowed her to meet his physical needs.  He asked her to get him a drink.  We can learn so much from this.  When we meet people who clearly need help – ours or professional – how we approach them makes all the difference.  Vulnerability is hard.  Seeing others struggle is hard.  It brings up our pain, our fears, our anger. Instead of entering into their pain, we often build walls.  Walls of competence, knowing the answers, judgement, and many more.  What can we learn from Jesus? He did not start by telling this woman, you need me.  He instead flipped the equation and allowed her to meet his needs.  How differently would people respond if we did this? When we encounter someone who is clearly hurting, our first response is often made out of panic and fear. We need to “fix this.”  If we instead started with relationship how different would it be?


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