by Pam Nath

We all need water to live and to thrive, just as we need housing, opportunities to learn and develop ourselves, good jobs, people who love us, clean air, the freedom to make our own choices, healthy food, opportunities to use our gifts and express ourselves, etc.

Demonstrator in Ferguson, August 2014

Demonstrator in Ferguson, August 2014. Photo by Abdul Aziz. Published with permission.

Sometimes we find ourselves without these things, or the only source to which we can turn for these things may be so bitter that its almost unbearable. Like the people at Marah in today’s lectionary text (Exodus 15:22-27), we cry out to God “What are we to drink?” And God promises, “I am the Lord who heals you.” “I satisfy the thirsty, and fill the hungry with good things.” “I bring you out of gloom, and break your bonds.” (Psalm 107:1-16)

I’ve seen the miraculous way that the Spirit can sweeten the bitter water of our lives even in the midst of the very oppressive structures in which we find ourselves stuck. After returning from a visit to Ferguson in August of last year I reflected:

What is special and inspiring about Ferguson is that people’s thirst for justice is so strong there that they persist in protests despite the ways they are persecuted and threatened by the powerful militarized forces arrayed against them. Like Jesus, they are guided not by what is, but by their vision of what can and should be, and because of this, they, like Jesus, have found the courage to speak out in defiance of the powers of Empire, even to the point of risking their lives….. In Ferguson, I heard the whispers of a new world….I saw in their faces not only righteous anger and determination, but also joy, because they have discovered that they are free because, like Jesus, they no longer are walking in the fear of death. In the face of that sort of Soul-Force, the power of empire fades into the background. (“When There Is No Peace, Where Are the Saints?“)

If you need to shake off some gloom, be inspired today by catching a glimpse of this sort of inspiring and beautiful Soul-Force in this video: 

O Healing God, the One who brings us out of gloom and breaks the chains which bind us, I believe You that those who are fighting for justice and freedom are destined to win. Help thou my unbelief.

Pam Nath is a Roots of Justice trainer. She has been living and working in New Orleans for the past eight years and loves being surrounded by water (the Bayou, the Lake, the river), by massive Oak trees, pelicans, and egrets, and by people who work passionately for a better world and who strive to live in Beloved Community with one another.