“The tears stream from my eyes, an artesian well of tears, until you, God, look down from on high, look and see my tears. (Lam 3:49-50, The Message)
These verses from Lamentations 3 continued our series ‘The Wells of Salvation’, looking at how God wants us to develop persistence in prayer. An artesian well is a source of water that does not need pumps at all. This type of well seems to defy gravity because the pressure that builds up between layers of rock gets relieved when the water finds a path to the open air. The water is naturally filtered because it passes through porous rock as it seeps into the Earth to reach the aquifer, and then the water is accessed by drilling so that you don’t have to manually or mechanically haul the water up from the depths. In some cases, if the pressure is great enough, the water bursts forth like a fountain, and that becomes a geyser such as is found in some parts of the United States or Iceland, for example.
The first known artesian well was drilled in 1126 by a group of monks in Artois, France – and that’s why they’re called ‘artesian wells’ (‘artesian’ is the adjective from the place name ‘Artois’). They used a bore, a rod with a sharp end, to penetrate a layer of impermeable rock to reach an aquifer. They persistently drummed into the rock with this bore until they eventually broke through the rock and water came gushing forth. Because the rock filters the water, the water which they eventually found was pure and safe to drink and these kinds of water sources are found in many different places all over the world.
This reminds us of two truths:
This water is naturally present in our world. There is ample water for all the world, provided by God, and this natural truth applies to our spiritual lives too. When Jesus talked about rivers of living water flowing from within us (John 7:38), there is no sense that there are any restrictions or limitations to these rivers. There is no lack in God; we will never suck Him dry, so to speak.
God’s abundant supply does not mean we sit by passively and do nothing. Of the monks in Artois, it is written, ‘Their percussive drilling — just hammering on the end of the bore — broke through the rock with sheer human force.’ So the water is there, given to us as a gift from God, but the means these monks used involved hard work, brute force, and probably took quite a long time. God wants us to learn to pray with perseverance and tears, that as we sow with tears, we may reap with songs of joy. (Ps 126:5)