25 Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.
When I read this verse and began to study, I was drawn down memory lane. You'll have to pardon me, but I recalled when our vocal ensemble was preparing for a tour. Our director had chosen a spiritual for us to work on, called "Poor Man Lazrus." At first, when we sightread through the music, we were all giggling, because as teenagers, it was cause for merriment to be able to say the word "hell" in song --- after all, we weren't supposed to say it! After we'd calmed down and digested the gospel message contained in the spiritual, it became one of our most treasured songs, and we were able to point listeners to Christ in the services when we sang, by delivering this song with all our hearts.
I know that you can find it on Youtube if you wish to hear it, but I just want to note the lyrics here for you:
Poor man Lazrus, sick and disabled,
He had to eat crumbs from the rich man's table.
Rich man Dives, he lived so well,
But when he died, he went straight to hell.
Dip your fingers in the water, come and cool my tongue, 'cause I'm tormented in the flame....
Let's pause for a moment and look at the gospel of Luke. In chapter 16, verses 19-31 tell us the story. In mortal life, Lazarus was a poor man, who was only able to reach for and receive the crumbs from the rich man's table. Dives (this word means "rich man" and may not be his actual name), on the other hand, lived well. Plenty to eat and drink, and high quality, too. And yet, we can see from the parable that he had little compassion for Lazarus - gave him nothing. He was lucky to get whatever crumbs he could from Dives table. What a contrast in the after-life: Lazarus was comfortably resting in the fellowship of Father Abraham, while Dives was tormented in the flames of hell. He asked first for a few drops of water -- just what would cling to Lazarus' fingertips and be shaken out onto Dives' tongue . . . when Abraham told him how dire (and how permanent) his situation was, he suddenly changed gears and asked for his five brothers to be told of his plight --- he wanted them to be able to avoid the hell he found himself in.
Just like that cold water would have been to Dives, so is our good news that we can, and should share with others. Our good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the good news from a far country, for all of the souls that are thirsty for God's love. Let's share this gospel --- first, by our behavior and words, and quiet testimony of how we live. Then, as others are drawn to the Spirit in us, let us answer their questions of how we have peace and contentment, and forgiveness of sins -- how we have hope for eternal life with our Father. That's good news!