“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
We were making our way up Icicle Ridge over Leavenworth. It was a beautiful morning. Grant led the way with Lynn, Sue and me behind. The trail is a two-mile rise above the valley floor with switchbacks to the top. It wasn’t terribly steep— just a long steady climb. It was hot and dry. We brought water, but we were thirsty — and it was going fast.
We were probably only a half-mile from the top when we ran into firefighters making their way down the trail. They said we had to turn back. There was a fire making its way down the ridge. In full fire gear these men had ascended the same trail to look for hikers and were now on their way back. They let us pray for them. They would be in harm’s way before the day was over.
Thirst is a consuming thing. Whether for hikers who have exhausted their supply of drinking water or land that has seen no rain — it is uncompromising in its desire to be quenched. When Jesus talks of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, he is comparing it to the desperate longing of one who would die without. It is like this forest floor that must be watered or at the slightest spark will erupt in devastating flame. Thirst cries out from the very absence of the thing it needs most.
We live in a hard world. Traveling throughout the majority world for the past several years I have seen just how cruel it can be. Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. And while we are wealthy enough in America to be able to create spaces of avoidance, we cannot escape the lack of righteousness in our comfortable world, either. And so our spirits, knowing that something is not right, if there is any life in them at all, cry out for satisfaction.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus was announcing just such a righteousness. It would not be worldly, but that does not mean it is not knowable. It would be palpable in the lives of His people. He is the very righteousness for which we have thirsted. He satisfies. So much so that his people would be watered even in the driest places. Our satisfaction would be not regarding our human condition, but our Kingdom one. To live otherwise would be to walk thirsty in the rain.