Water is a powerful symbol throughout the Bible. In fact, Jewish thinking says that God specifically put his people in a land with no major rivers precisely to help them remember that God was the ultimate provider of water and of all their needs.
Water is a truly amazing part of our world and of what enables life to exist. Although freshwater covers less than 1 per cent of the earth’s surface, we are utterly dependent on it for our survival and it provides the habitat for about 10 per cent of the world’s known species. We are part of a huge hydrological cycle that uses the energy of the sun to create a constant exchange of water between the oceans, the land and the atmosphere.
But, today, water is both in trouble and is causing trouble. Freshwater species numbers have seen an 83 per cent decline since 1970 – meaning that, in the last fifty years, eight out of every ten freshwater species has been wiped out!
Alongside the impact on biodiversity, lack of access to clean water is one of the biggest issues facing the human population today. Currently 60 per cent of the world’s population live in areas of water stress, where the amount of water available cannot meet the demand in a sustainable way, and this looks set to worsen as demand for water around the world is predicted to rise by up to 50 per cent by 2050.
Shortages, however, are not the only water issues that poor communities around the world are facing. Floods have affected more people than any other type of disaster so far this century and drought is becoming an increasing reality for people the world over.
It does not have to be this way. We can make a difference through the actions we take in our lives and in our churches. We can look to where we can conserve water in our own lives, get involved in local initiatives to care for rivers and canals, and much more.
Today let us marvel afresh at water, to notice where and how it features in our lives; to appreciate its wonder, and commit ourselves to taking care of this precious resource that is so vital if life on earth is to flourish.