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In the Word: When the Poor & Needy Are Thirsty, Who Answers?

Read Isaiah 41:17-20 NIV

“The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
    their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
    I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

Isaiah 41:17 NIV

When the poor and needy are thirsty, the Lord clearly says that he answers. But how? Does God spin tumblers filled with water out of thin air and place them on the front porches of the poor? Does he bottle purified water in plastic cases and make them rain down on the thirsty?

God continued to speak through Isaiah, providing examples of all of the ways he will restore and renew a dry and weary land filled with a dry and weary people. Rivers flow out of barrenness. Deserts fill with lakes and ponds. Deciduous and evergreens grow from formerly nutrient deficient soil. Not only is the Lord pouring out Living Water for the people, he is restoring land that has been made destitute.

How is God working in these ways today, now?

Jesus is clear with his disciples: the Comforter, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is with us always. He is not just with us, he is in us, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit that guides us in God’s Way, the Way of Love. From the moment of Pentecost on, the church of believers who have received this new calling to live the Way of Love must listen to the Spirit of truth given to every son and daughter of God. Ever since, the church has been learning how to be the body of Christ on Earth. 

So how does God answer the poor and needy? How does God restore the forests, rejuvenate rivers, reintroduce wildlife into national parks, renew grasslands, revive soil, and rescue every soul from the wasteland? 

He uses us, the living, breathing, active extension of the Trinity, the body of people who are so moved by the love of their creator that they love their neighbor and love the planet their creator made, so that all may be saved, restored and brought into the promised new heaven and new earth.

God answers, through me. Through you. Through us, together, doing what we can to live humble lives of service in love as modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ, who said to be one just as he and the Father are one. May we live united in the Way of Love, and answer the barren and thirsty.

Points of Reflection

  1. How is your local church or community listening to and answering the poor and thirsty in your community, the poor and thirsty people, animals, plants, or land? 
  2. What can you do to be a more intentional hand or foot of Jesus?

For the Kids

  1. How do you think God takes care of the poor and thirsty?
  2. Jesus came to save the world, and we get to help. What is one small thing you and your family could do differently to help make a difference for people and the planet?


There are a million different organizations, clubs, churches, and groups who are at work to answer the poor and thirsty, whether the poor and thirsty are people, plants, land, or animals. Spend time in prayer and meditation this week. Ask God to help you connect your passion with the world’s hurt and reveal to you a way to use your gifts to pour a cool glass of water on whatever thirst surfaces.


Most of us have gone our entire lives never once worrying whether or not we will be able to get to water. Water is one of those resources that never seems to run out. It just isn’t something we have to think about. The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman examines the long history of water, our relationship to it, what the future holds for water, and what innovations are underway even now to literally turn the tides on water scarcity.

Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on or through a local independent bookstore near you.

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