On a recent visit to the NASA Space Center in Houston, I learned about the research and scientific study related to the projected human colonization of Mars in 2035. One of the factors for survival is how to extract enough water from the planet. With a round-trip travel time of one year, finding the answer is key to the success of the mission.
Of course, this is an issue we grapple with right here on Earth. In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water; despite welcome El Niño rains this winter, California is still under strict water restrictions after four years of drought; and nearly 800 million people in the world lack dependable access to clean water.
To bring awareness to water-related issues and help educate and inspire people to make a difference, March 22 marks the 23rd anniversary of observing World Water Day.
For those seeking spiritual guidance on this issue, the Bible offers many accounts of people safely relying on God to supply their most basic human needs. For instance, there’s the compelling story of the widow in a drought-ridden land who has come to the end of her resources (see I Kings 17:7-16). As she prepares to have her last meal with her son, a foreigner, Elijah, approaches her and asks her to bring him water and food first. You might expect her to decline, yet she doesn’t.
By complying with his request, the woman rejects a limited concept of supply, which would have her fearfully fend for her household first, and her generosity is rewarded. Elijah reassures her that her flour and oil will not be depleted until rain again returns to the land, and his prophecy, which he hears by prayerfully listening to God, proves true.
The woman’s generosity and obedience provides her with much more than food and water. Elijah proves to her that supply is not governed by material conditions but by a divine, infinite source of good. “Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us,” writes Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 79).
The example of Elijah and the widow might seem radical on the surface, and yet isn’t there a spiritual lesson here for each one of us?
While it is tempting to think that life is determined by dwindling material resources at the whim of environmental or human factors, the teachings of the Bible and of Christian Science show that the source of life is truly found in God, Life itself, who provides for all. God, our loving creator, doesn’t ignore some of His children while abundantly providing for others. The prophet Isaiah glimpsed this when he wrote, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:17, 18).
One way we experience this divine aid is by listening, in thought, for the intelligent ideas we receive when we pray. This involves quieting fear and turning expectantly to God for answers and direction. The prayer that acknowledges God’s total goodness doesn’t expect provision and lack at the same time, but understands God, or divine Love, as the infinite source of supply. Mrs. Eddy explained it best when she wrote, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies.” She urged, “Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307).
The ideas that come to us in prayer might lead us to generously and honestly ration personal water use or replace expansive lawns with drought-resistant plantings. And for our neighbors in Sudan, it might be expressed in resources to build village wells so girls can attend school rather than spend an entire day walking for water.
Wherever we are, our united prayers are needed on this subject to help prove that the ideas for preserving and receiving the resources we need are given by our loving creator, who provides abundantly for all.