Friday, April 10, 2009
I recently heard a powerful message on the story of the man healed at the pool at Bethesda from the 5th chapter of the book of John. The story is set near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, where there was a pool of healing. A large number of people with various illness would lie there, waiting for an angel to come and stir the waters. The belief was that the first person who made it into the moving waters would be healed of his or her ailment.
The story continues to tell of how Jesus passed by a man who was lying by the pool and asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” or “Do you want to get well?” On the surface of it, this seems like an odd question with an obvious answer.
But instead of simply saying, “Yes, I want to be well, “ the paralytic gave an excuse, saying he’d been waiting for 38 years, complaining that he had nobody to put him in the pool and someone else always got into the water before he did. Jesus simply told the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk.
I find many parts of this story interesting and applicable to the struggle many of us face in our journey to a healthier life. First, I find it interesting that Jesus did not waste time sympathizing with the paralytic’s plight. He didn’t even acknowledge that the man’s problem involved anyone but himself. He not only refused to play the “blame game”, he didn’t even acknowledge it.
How often do we try to play the “Pity me, I’m all alone in this impossible struggle” game? Not only won’t that kind of self-pity solve the problem, it isn’t even a valid argument. My problem is MY problem, and my challenges are MY challenges. The first step in solving my problems and facing my challenges is to claim them and acknowledge my part in having created them in the first place. The life I have now is the result of the choices I’ve made, and if I want something different, it will require me to make different choices.
I also think it’s interesting that Jesus didn’t ask the man how long he’d been waiting. I’m pretty certain the man had heard that question many times and had come to expect it. But Jesus didn’t have to ask; He knew the answer. But it didn’t really matter how long the man had been there. The only thing Jesus was concerned with was, “Wilt thou be made whole?”
How often have I chosen to remain paralyzed? And how often have I given up the struggle just before a breakthrough? How often have I continued to operate in old patterns, not because they were effective but because they were familiar? How often have I trusted in the wrong people and things, ignoring the necessary process to receive the promise? How often have I relied on my senses and emotions and neglected to walk by faith?
It doesn’t really matter how long I’ve struggled with a problem or how many times I didn’t quite make it “into the pool“. The only thing that matters is if I really want to be well, and if I act upon what God tells me to do. He will provide the resources I need and the right people to teach me. The lesson will be learned when I am ready to learn it. He might even send an angel to stir the waters, but I don’t need to get into them. In fact, I prefer to simply pick up my mat and walk.
God has not forgotten me in my struggles. He has been with me all along, even when I haven’t recognized or acknowledged His presence. And He has been preparing me all along to step into His place of purpose for me. God’s delays are not denials. He has me in just the right place at this particular moment in time to receive His healing and His blessing.
Yes, I will be made whole!