If you ask my kids to tell you one sentence mummy makes often, they most likely will say ‘if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself up and try again’. I remember loving this song by Aaliyah so much when i was a teenager. Although i can’t remember the lyrics anymore, this line in the song has stuck to my head. You must have heard this phrase before or something similar. We are encouraged never to give up trying. But what if that situation has lingered for so long? Like 38 years?
This was the situation of a nameless man in John 5:1-9 who has been sick for 38 years. He laid by the pool of Bethesda where many sick people came to stay. This pool wasn’t an ordinary pool. Everyone who came to this place expected to be healed someday because an angel came to the pool at certain times to stir the water. Whoever got in the water first was healed. So there was an expectation from the people there that it would be their turn some day. This particular man had same expectations when he arrived. I week became 1 month. I month became 1 year. I year became 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. I’m sure during this period he has tried and tried but for some reason someone always stepped in the pool before him and got healed. Can you relate with being in an atmosphere of miracles or supernatural encounters and you experience nothing?
What a feeling that must have been? In the time he stayed, his circle of friendship would have changed several times. He has seen many come to the pool after him and left him there. Life wasn’t fair to him. The attempt to get in the pool must have been very challenging as everyone rushed to get in first. The pain of watching another person take his place must have been excruciating. ‘Oh not again’ he would have said several times.
Can you relate with the feeling of having this sentence hit your email the tenth time. ‘Sorry your application has not been successful this time’. Are you tired of trying? Have you given life your all and got nothing in return? Have you held on to faith for so long and now feels as though there is no point in faith? Is your hope deferred? Are you tired of watching everyone else’s blog grow except yours? Are you tired of reading other people’s testimony and wondering when it will be your turn?
After 38 years, this man’s problem has become a way of life. No one had ever helped him. He had no hope of every being healed. His situation looked hopeless. But no matter how trapped you feel in your infirmities or challenges, God can minister to your deepest needs.
This man was in physical, emotional and psychological pain. When Jesus asked if he would like to get well, he couldn’t respond directly. Instead he went on to tell Jesus how life has not been fair to him. One thing i love about God is that He sees our heart. I have heard this scripture preached in several ways. I have heard this man being chastised for almost missing an opportunity. Some have even pointed out the fact that he didn’t know what Jesus could do. But as i study and put myself in his shoes, i someone can feel his pain.
When you are hurting, you hear differently. Jesus asked ‘would you like to get well?‘. He probably heard ‘why have you been here for so long?’. Pain has a way affecting how we respond to things. Pain makes us defensive. Remember in this man’s case, it was a constant battle for survival. The bible doesn’t tell us exactly why this man responded the way he did. After 38 years, i’m sure this man must have heard a lot from people trying to tell him what he isn’t doing right.
It’s sad how we are quick to tell people what they aren’t doing enough of when they experience the harshness of life. ‘You need to pray more’. ‘If you have faith, this sickness, delay, etc will go’. ‘You need to try again’. You need to worship more’. ‘You need to……. more’.
This man has heard it all and was not ready for another person to tell him what he needs to do more of. Instead he wanted to explain exactly the reason why he is not getting his miracle.
The difference between us and Jesus is that Jesus listens and He cares. I mean, He truly cares. He knows when we need to be taught and when we need to be comforted. This wasn’t time to lecture the man on faith and on the things that causes delays. This was time to heal and that was what He did.
Sometimes, people don’t need our correction. There are too many people rebuking and correcting. While a very little number encourage. Many are gifted in rebuking but know nothing about encouraging and lifting others up. If you read my blogs, you know i am not one to encourage living in sin and being lazy. That isn’t what this is about please.
Jesus didn’t rebuke him for explaining how he felt. Instead He allowed him to explain and express his feelings. After which Jesus solved his problem and gave him what he needed. Jesus healed him and gave him the kind of freedom he has been deprived of for 38 years.
You might not have any situation that has lasted that long. And it doesn’t have to be that long for Jesus to help you. Don’t let a problem or hardship cause you to lose hope. God may have special work for you to do inspite of your condition, or even because of it. Many have ministered effectively to hurting people because they have triumphed over their own hurts. Tell Jesus exactly how you feel and He will help you. He is loving and caring. He won’t tell you to ‘get over it‘. He will listen and lead you. That is what He does. Don’t give up on life. Don’t give up on God. God hasn’t given up on you.