Do you want to get well?

5 After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, 3 and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there.k5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “ Do you want to get well? ”

7 The sick man answered him, “ Sir,l I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me. ”

8 Jesus said to him, “ Get up! Pick up your mat and walk. ” 9 Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

10 The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “ It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat. ”

11 He answered, “ The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 They inquired, “ Who is this man who said to you, ‘Pick it up and walk’? ” 13 The man who had been cured didn’t know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away from the crowd gathered there.

14 Later Jesus found him in the temple and said, “ See! You have been made well. Don’t sin anymore in case something worse happens to you. ” 15 The man went and proclaimed to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the man who had made him well.

16 As a result, the Jewish leaders were harassing Jesus, since he had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 Jesus replied, “ My Father is still working, and I am working too. ” 18 For this reason the Jewish leaders wanted even more to kill him—not only because he was doing away with the Sabbath but also because he called God his own Father, thereby making himself equal with God. ~John 5:1-18 (CEB)

Do you want to get well? It seems like a ridiculous question. Who wouldn’t want to get well? But with closer reflection I am forced to ask…  Do I really want to get well?

To be healed I must accept that I am sick in the first place. Even though I do not show my pain to God,  He knows it is there but he waits to hear my voice. He is always faithful. Every time I cry out he whispers… Do you want to get well?

So what is this deep evil sickness I need healing from?

It is my heart that needs healing. Often in my life I find myself crying out again for God to heal my broken heart. Time and again I look at the pieces and I hear Jesus whisper, do you really want to get well? But it’s not about me it’s about all the hurts that have caused my pain… the father who abandoned me, the mother who couldn’t be there for me, the friends who left me, the husband who drank too much, the children who didn’t love me enough

My hurt is substantiated. My wrongs are real…. I didn’t want to let them go, so I stay on my mat and watch someone else be healed. After being sick so long I had become at home in my pain. I had been sick so long, the pain seemed a safe place to be. It seems hard to believe that we could become so attached to a sickness or an addiction to not choose health. Maybe my illness keeps me from facing the real problem~ or my real self. Maybe it has become the crutch I have used to hide or sidestep deeper spiritual problems. Or maybe the sickness is so deep that I have to look hard to see that it is even there.

Not only can I become comfortable in my illness I can become to accept my circumstances. This is what I am most guilty of… accepting my circumstances.

Like this man I had to be reminded first that there was another alternative. I did not have to remain in my illness. I did not have to accept the darkness, just simply biding my time until I went on to be with Jesus in Heaven. I could have abundant life now.

First I had to address the fact that it was more comfortable to be sick. My biggest problem was that I was contented in my misconceptions; I had developed some strong bad habits and there were some strong hurt feelings that I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up.

Jesus asked the man “Do you want to get well?” His response tells it all, as he reels off a list of excuses:

“I don’t have anyone to put me into the water.

When the angel comes to stir the water, someone gets there ahead of me.

So you see, all I can do is remain unwell for another year.

But I am faithful. I have been waiting for thirty-eight years.”

How often have I blamed my circumstances? Thought things were beyond my control?

How often did I think I just needed to make the best of the situation until God answered my prayers?

And I was faithful in praying. I prayed consistently. Then I lived my day to day life just the same. Defeated and very ill.

Thirty-eight years is a long time to be unwell. I was about 38 when I began to realize how sick I had become how focused I had become on my “self”. I not only felt at home in my weakness, I also found myself surrounded with people who also were unwell and they spent all their time waiting but not seeing that their most serious illness was that they were comfortable in their illness or addiction.

Sometimes even after you have decided that yes you do want to get better it still feels impossible and maybe you have no support. After all everyone around you is also used to you being unwell. You getting better will create change for them as well. The people around you may start to complain. They might be required to make changes too if you get well. Being exposed to wellness is serious business.

Dealing with hurts, bad habits and misconceptions will be hard work. It will leave me feeling raw and exposed. But this is the work that must be done if I am to find joy, happiness and abundant living here on earth.

The question, Do you want to get well, reminds me that I am a participant in my road to health. God may very well bring miraculous, sudden, or slow healing. But from this scripture it appears that God does not bring healing unless I first desire to be whole. So if I truly want to be healed then I must participate in the healing process. Even in the miraculous healing I am asked to be a full participant.

The point of Jesus’ question is that the waters that needed to be stirred were inside me. Jesus was whispering to just get up. Just take a first step.

First I have to decide that I can’t.  I am indeed helpless on my own. Second I have to realize that God can. With God I am indeed invincible. Third I have to let God. God does have the ability to make me whole once again.

These steps cannot remain in my head. In my head it is safe to analyze my illness, find its cause and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But if the work remains in my head no final healing will likely come.

Henri Nouwen says in his book The Inner Voice of Love, “You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged, because under every wound you uncover you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears will need to be shed.

But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.

The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to enter into your silence than to talk about them.

You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.”

One of the many things that amaze me about the Bible is how often just before someone’s life is about to come to a complete total transformation God’s words to them are first “Do not be afraid.”

Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Mary, Joseph… all were told at that pivotal point of transformation Do not be afraid. Then he would remind them that they were not alone that he will go with them through the trials.

When the Israelites were getting ready to go into the promised land after wandering around in the desert for 40 years “Moses saidy these words to all Israel, 2 telling them: I’m 120 years old today. I can’t move around well anymore. Plus, the LORD told me “You won’t cross the Jordan River.” 3 But the LORD your God, he’s the one who will cross over before you! He’s the one who will destroy these nations before you so you can displace them. Joshua too will cross over before you just like the LORD indicated. 4 The LORD will do to these enemies the same thing he did to the Amorite kings Sihon and Og, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5 The LORD will lay them out before you, and you will do to them exactly what the command I’ve given you dictates. 6 Be strong! Be fearless! Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the LORD your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and he won’t abandon you.” Deut 31:3-6 (CEB)

In verse 4 God reminds the Israelites what he has done for them already and then assures them that He will continue to help them enter into his promises.

As God tells us to take those first steps, he also assures us that he will march with us leading us in the way we are to go. But God doesn’t just walk with us or go before us. God will do the fighting for us. We are simply to be Strong and be fearless .We are not to be afraid of the work because God not only walks with us but he won’t let us down or abandon us.

Earlier in Deuteronomy in chapter 7:17-24

17 If you happen to think to yourself, These nations are greater than we are; how can we possibly possess their land? 18 don’t be afraid of them! Remember, instead, what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and all Egypt: 19 the great trials that you saw with your own eyes, the signs and wonders, and the strong hand and outstretched arm the LORD your God used to rescue you. That’s what the LORD your God will do to any people you fear. 20 The LORD your God will send terrori on them until even the survivors and those hiding from you are destroyed. 21 Don’t dread these nations because the LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is with you and among you. ( 22 The LORD your God will drive out these nations before you bit by bit. You won’t be able to finish them off quickly; otherwise, the wild animals would become too much for you to handle.) 23 The LORD your God will lay these nations before you, throwing them into a huge panic until they are destroyed.

Little by little God will tackle our inner hurts. Bit by bit he will drive them out of our hearts. The work cannot be done quickly because it would be too much to handle. But God will destroy them.

I think back to Henri Nouwen’s words, “do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.”

The fact that I feel the pain of my broken heart says to me that I can answer Jesus’ whispered question to my heart, Yes, I want to get well. Heal my shattered heart. With the words from Ezekial 36:26-28 he answers my reply

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, 27 and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. 28 Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

God not only will heal my heart. He gives me His.

Amen.

Yahoo search said that there were 365 verses in the Bible that tell us not to be afraid. If that is true that is a verse for every day of the year.

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