Daily Thought For November 18, 2019

Do You Want To Be Healed? 

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" 
                                                 John 5:2-6 

This seems like an absurd question. The guy has been lying there for thirty-eight years. What kind of person wouldn't want to be healed? Maybe one who has become attached to his sickness, who prefers his own way to a better way, or who refuses help because he wants to do things himself, on his own terms. 

Jesus' question is not "Are you sick?" or "Are you suffering?” but "Do you want to be healed?" Jesus isn't asking for help with the diagnosis; he already knows. What matters to Jesus is whether or not the man wants to be healed. In his response to Jesus, the man says that he has been waiting for someone to lift him up and place him in the healing waters, but no one has done so. He has been lying there alone in his misery, for so very long. 

I find myself marveling at this man. After all this time, he still waits in hope. Indeed, he wants to be healed; but even more, he is still waiting for and wanting someone to do for him what he cannot do for himself. 

How many temptations to despair arose during all those years, how many reasons to become angry or jaded? Who would blame this man if he had simply given up? As I write this, I am a few months shy of my thirty-eighth birthday − every breathing moment since my birth still totals less than the duration of this man's suffering. Maybe he was not always ready and always willing to be helped; but here and now, at this critical moment, he is ready and willing. And so Jesus heals him, with the man's full consent. 

Those thirty-eight years recall.the span of time that the Israelites journeyed from Kadesh, where they rebelled against the Lord, to the promised land of Canaan. They wanted to pick and choose their path at the beginning, refusing to be carried by the Lord their God who had already delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They were addicted to their own way. But over the course of thirty-eight grueling years of suffering and hardship, they were ready to accept the Lord's gift. The Lord waited for Israel to want to be healed so he could lead them through the waters of the Jordan. 

I say I want to be healed, to be well, to live in the love of Christ. But do I really? His ways are not my ways, and to be healed requires allowing myself to be lifted up into his ways, where I will be made well. As Saint John Henry Newman preached, "We must become what we are not; we must learn to love what we do not love, and practice ourselves in what is difficult." Sometimes what is most difficult is truly desiring what is good for us and agreeing to let someone do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. 

Waiting in hope during times of suffering gives us a share in Israel's desert journey, softening our hearts and weakening our defenses so that we each may say to our Savior when the time comes, "Yes, Lord, I want to be healed." 

Prayer 

Lord Jesus, give me the courage to be vulnerable before you. 

from A God Who Questions by Leonard J. DeLorenzo pp.39-41

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