So often in life we become products of our circumstances. Our ailments, limitations, diseases and hardships begin to control us. We become so focused on what happened to us, that we can no longer search for healing and hope, but have resigned ourselves to our current or worst fate.
This is what happened to the man described in John 5:2-15. He was invalid and had been lying by the pools of Bethesda for 38 years. Legend had it that an angel would stir the waters and the first person into the pools after the water had been stirred would be healed. So this man had been focused on being the first person into the water for 38 years, but had never been successful. When Jesus approached him and asked “Do you want to be healed?” the man was still so focused on the pools. He made excuses of why he hadn’t been healed yet, instead of looking up at Jesus and seeing that he could be the one to help. He was trapped not only in his body, but in his mind, he developed the crippling attitude of being a victim.
At times it is easy for us to be wrapped up with wallowing in our misery that we don’t turn our eyes to a source of strength and hope. Jesus is able to heal us, make us whole, ease anxiety and discomfort and give us salvation, but only if we are able to accept it.
Nine years ago I was diagnosed with MS, which can be unpredictable and debilitating. I chose not to fixate on the challenges that the disease can present, but instead to continue to live out my personal mission statement: To know Christ and to make Christ known. This has allowed me to grow in areas of my personal and pastoral life. I have richer priorities, and am less preoccupied by trivial matters. I have also developed a deeper level of empathy and caring for those in need. It is amazing how different sympathy and empathy can be. My eternal perspective has been strengthened, and I tend to invest most in what will stay with me for eternity. I have also learned to trust that while insurance coverage may change, by God’s grace and mercy I will always be covered for my preexisting condition.
While we can’t control what happens to us in our time on Earth, we can control how we react, and what or who we turn to for strength and for hope. If you are too busy waiting for a quick way to fix all your problems, you may never truly be healed.