Guest Post: The Key Question

by Judi

John 5:2 – 9 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

This story struck a personal chord in me: I was sick, either physically or mentally, for the better part of 40 years.

I get this guy, friends.

I really get him.

I get his frustration, his resignation, his hopelessness, his inability to help himself.

I was reminded immediately of the well-worn phrase: “When times get tough, the tough get going.”

Well, this guy wasn’t tough and he couldn’t get going.

I told a friend recently, “I’ve got an addition to that mantra: ‘When times get tough, the tough get going, leaving the weak, the maimed, and the helpless behind, wondering, ‘What about me?'”

That’s just what happened in this story of the man by the Bethesda pool.

Times were tough: a multitude of the sick were making it into the healing waters, either on their own or helped by others.

But this man had no help.

“I don’t have a man to put me into the pool…while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”

So, 38 years and counting, he remains sick.

I detect no note of bitterness in the man’s answer, just as I never felt bitter toward others when they couldn’t help me during my long years of illness.

I just continued to wait, hoping for someone to come along and carry me to the healing place.

For this man, and for me, that someone was Jesus.

In both of our cases, Jesus knew we had “already been there a long time”.

In light of that fact, Jesus’ question, “Do you want to get well?” seems like a thick-headed question.

“Of course I want to get well?! Who wants to be sick?!”

But Jesus knew the answer to that question is not as obvious as it seems.

There are often inherent emotional paybacks in sickness that are even stronger than the desire to be well.

Jesus knew that truly wanting to get well is the key that unlocks the Great Physician’s Pharmacy.

Time does not allow me to explore how pivotal this is to our healing.

It has taken a lifetime of transforming suffering into health to truly understand this principle.

To put it simply: When we’re ready, when we want wholeness and health far more than we want brokenness and sickness, Jesus will heal.

Does that mean He will always heal instantly, as He did with the man by the pool?

Does it mean He will always heal in the way we want Him to heal?

Not always.

But it’s clear to me that our part is the desire to be whole.

His part is to accomplish that in the most perfect and complete way possible.

Our thoughts are not His thoughts.

Our idea of healing is often not His idea of healing.

We must simply put our weak, sick bodies and minds in the hands of the Great Healer.

Jesus made us.

After the world gets through with us, it is Jesus and only Jesus who can make us whole again.

Jesus, You are the Great Physician. I desire your healing touch. Show me, Lord, where that desire is not pure, where other aspects of my life bar the way to wholeness and vitality. You have my permission, Jesus, to search me and know me, to reveal where I hold onto emotions that are not life-giving, or practice habits that impact my body, soul, and spirit. Thank you, Lord, for being not only my Saviour but my Healer. Amen.

12 Responses to Guest Post: The Key Question

  1. October 8, 2008 #

    Thanks, Judi. You make a good point – we have to want to get better before we will get better.

    I was struck by the man’s obedience. He could have scoffed at Jesus’ command for him to get up and walk. “What? I need you to carry me to the waters! I can’t walk, can’t be healed unless you help me to the pool!”

    Jesus didn’t always do things the way people expected him to. But – like Jeanette wrote last week in “Because You Say So,” we must obey Him even when we don’t understand.

    Mark has preached a sermon about “Being Blessable.” God has given us each the keys to His blessings, but often, we want the blessings without doing what God has told us we must do to receive those blessings. Your post reminded me of that – in order to be healthy, we must want health enough to do the things that will bring health to our bodies. Then, we must trust Jesus to take us the rest of the way.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  2. October 9, 2008 #

    What a beautiful post.

    It is the spirit in us that needs the healing, not just the physical body, in order for the body to start healing.

    I remember thinking how Greg’s spirit was strong and his faith strong, because even though he was in a great deal of pain, he kept working towards getting better. Others in his situation might have given in to the pain and delved into self pity, before allowing the spirit to heal.

    We have to need it and want it and to ask God to help us through it.

  3. October 9, 2008 #

    Thanks for stopping by, Aleta! Judi has an awesome story.

    It sounds like Greg really does have an inner strength that comes only from God. I’m sure his story will be an encouragement to many.


  4. October 9, 2008 #

    Judi, I love this post! Thanks for expressing it so well.

    Healing is a difficult topic for me. My daughter Coral has severe cerebral palsy due to birth trauma. Given all the pieces that fit together to make her the unique person she is, she is totally happy just as she is. When she was little, I often imagined what it would be like if she were totally and miraculously healed, and I was sure that God could get no greater glory than through her healing. But His thoughts and mine were quite different, just as you said, Judi. Maybe He will still do just that when the time is right. After all, the lame man in this story waited 38 years, a lot longer than we have! Obeying and trusting even when I don’t understand is a lesson I’m still learning, of that I am sure!

  5. October 9, 2008 #

    Thank you so much, Aleta and Jeanette.
    Aleta, you are so right: Jesus wants to heal body, soul, and spirit. We are a package deal and He wants to heal the whole package.
    Jeanette, I empathize with your long struggle with physical disability within your family. It is so often true that God does not heal in the timing nor manner that we would if we were running the Universe!
    But his thoughts and plans and purposes are SO much greater than ours.
    I now know that every trial, every pain, every struggle with emotional and physical illness over those long years, was part of a beautiful tapestry God was weaving into my life…creating a healing cloth, with rich and varied threads, that so many others can now find comfort in.
    No one would ask for 40 years in the wilderness of pain and illness.
    But the wilderness and what I learned there was the prerequisite for “the promised land” where I walk now.
    I did not take this journey for myself alone…I took it for all God’s people who suffer and are in pain.
    So that when I emerged I could hold high His light on the pathway behind me.
    God is beyond incredible.

  6. October 10, 2008 #

    Hi Judi!

    There is such great wisdom in having been through long testing and having emerged on the other side with the ability to look back and see the beauty woven together into the fabric of your life! What a blessing that is! Sometimes I can see glimpses of that beauty in my life, too, not yet as clearly as you can, but your story encourages me, which is one of it’s beautiful purposes, I believe. Thank you for sharing as you do.

    The blessings in my life are many, too many to count, and I believe there will be lots of sparkly places when I get to see that picture!


  7. October 10, 2008 #

    a wonderful story Judi…and I believe one that should be given to our youth to read as well…
    Jesus can make a difference in our lives in so many ways 🙂

  8. October 11, 2008 #

    Thank you, Jeanette and Laketrees.
    Jeanette, the greatest blessings of my life right now are not the health, vitality, and joy I daily experience, but the sheer pleasure of being used by the Master to reach out to others who are suffering and discouraged.
    Never in a million years did I think I would be in this place of ministering to others – I was always too needy.
    It is a dream of a life-time to be an instrument of grace and wisdom in others lives.
    Laketrees, thank you for your response. It’s interesting you would mention the value of my life’s story to young people because the Lord has put many young people directly in my life. In fact, I live with 5 twenty and thirty-somethings! And there are more : all their friends who frequent the house, former boarders, others. With all these rich friendships with young people, and I mean rich, I have found a receptive ear and eagerness to hear my story, to learn from my wisdom.
    I tell you, there is nothing quite like having a young person listen and respond to your life-lessons.
    Thanks both of you for commenting.

  9. October 16, 2008 #

    I loved this piece. I came to it several days after it was put on the internet. It spoke beautifully to me. I am always in awe of your transformation, and this piece helped me, one more time, understand it all. Also, because I have an ill person very near to me in my life, your words bring a tiny bit more understanding . I have to work very hard at not being condescending towards this person, and your devotional was so appropriate for me tonight. God bless you.


  10. October 17, 2008 #

    My dear Barbie Allen,
    You have walked by my side through much of this journey – it is such a joy now to share this time of transformation and health with you.
    You and others of my dearest friends have been a light for me when I could not see the way ahead. Thank you for your years of support, encouragement, and belief in me.
    I am blessed that this piece helped you understand your ill loved one a little more. It is a credit to you that you continue to seek understanding of her journey when it is so foreign to your own experience.

  11. October 23, 2008 #

    I once again tell you my friend, that I so appreciate you and I know these words are for a purpose that is far beyond this page… 🙂

    He is a blessing…and as such…He gives and makes blessings…of which you are one!

  12. October 28, 2008 #

    Thank you, Muse. I treasure and appreciate you as well.
    I hope and pray that all my words, spoken and written, are for a purpose far beyond me.
    That goal is what keeps me going!

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