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Do I Want To Be Healed?

Today’s Reflection

Continued Reflection on John 5:1-9


I imagine the man beside the Bethesda pool feels the same way when Jesus asks the question. As if he hasn’t prayed for healing every day for thirty-eight years. As if he hasn’t wished that very thing every hour he lies beside the pool, waiting for the water to stir. As if he hasn’t yelled out in frustration, even anger, each time another person beats him to the water.

Jesus knows this, of course. He knows the man’s story, his pain, his need for healing. Jesus can easily walk over to the man, kneel beside him, speak some healing words, help the man to his feet, and go on about his day. But he doesn’t. Instead, he insists on asking the question, which tells us two things.

First, Jesus will not impose himself on the man and assume he desires healing – with good reason. Jesus understands the man needs to play an active role in his own healing. Think about it. The man has been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. All that time he’s depended on others to carry him places, take care of him, even help him into the pool. We can imagine how this would play on his self-esteem, how over time his identity would change to incorporate a sense of dependence and passiveness. Had Jesus just walked up and healed him, the man would have remained in a passive position. But through his question, Jesus invites the man to become an active participant in his own healing journey. For his sake, the man needs to say, “Yes, I want to be healed “before any real healing will take place.

And that is critical. Because the other reason Jesus asks the question is this: Healing is hard. It takes work. Being healed from paralysis represents only the first step in the man’s journey. Following that, he will have to learn a whole new way of living. Life will no longer be as he has known it; it will be completely different, and he will have to learn to adjust.

– Kristen E. Vincent
Beads of Healing

From pages 21-22 of Beads of Healing: Prayer, Trauma, and Spiritual Wholeness by Kristen E. Vincent. Copyright © 2016 by Kristen E. Vincent. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What do you find difficult about accepting God’s healing in your life? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew[a] Bethzatha,which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath.
John 5:1-9, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without a church home. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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This week we remember: Valentine (February 14).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 17 comments… add one }

  • Jill February 17, 2017, 3:52 am

    I find this question to be difficult to respond to, like yesterday’s question. I rejoice in His healing of me. I don’t find it difficult to accept. I am interested to read others’ perspectives. If anything – I am in awe of the simplicity of healing. My struggle is with my own inability to prepare for the healing – that only happens on His timetable. What I am trying to say is this – I seem to resist – mentally – that such healing is possible. I feel like I am still not being clear. Like Paul – who asked three times that his “thorn” be removed. It’s as if a thought pattern will forever run right through the middle of my brain. And, then, out of the blue…the road is erased…what sweet relief. I want the healing to look one way, be on my terms/schedule – and then God blows me away – healing better than I had envisioned and that sweet peace that passes understanding. (Sorry for my inability to thread my words together better this AM.)
    Grateful for good sharing last night at small group. A few were absent, so with an even more intimate group – really good conversation. Grateful to step away this weekend – travel with good weather planned, time again with a friend. My parents began to make their way south towards warmer weather and my sister. Glad to hear of their safe travels and mom’s positive attitude.

    • Rusty February 17, 2017, 4:12 pm

      Jill, I think you’ve expressed your thoughts in a very clear and meaningful way. Our natural resistance, the struggle you describe around where your mind normally goes on the subject of healing, and then how that is sometimes altered unexpectedly by God (giving you sweet relief, as you say) — all very helpful insights. Thank you!

  • Stephen February 17, 2017, 5:18 am

    Did anyone realize how offensive this is? Imagine saying this to a person in a wheelchair in a hospital. No really. Imagine walking up to a handicapped person or cancer patient and saying this to them. Pretty shitty, isn’t it. So why did anyone think it would be ok to publish this? Is this compassionately putting yourself in a chronically ill person’s shoes? 

  • robert moeller February 17, 2017, 5:58 am

    I think all three of us, Jill, Stephen, and myself are struggling with this reflection. I think everyone needs some sort of healing whether it is spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical because we are humans. For me recognizing and admitting that I needed healing was the problem. Yes, God’s healing comes on God’s timetable. Yes, it is better than we could ever expect. While God can and does use humans to help people heal. It is God who is behind the healing and God knows when and how to address people. We see that in Jesus’ encounter with the man at the temple. Only if empowered, sent by God could we do the same. Like Paul with his thorn, there are times when God works through people who have disabilities, terminal illnesses, and by our understanding of healing they are not healed, but God’s ways are not our ways. God does more than we can imagine. Understanding God and God’s healing is not an easy task and we may not be able to fully comprehend.
    Thank you Jill and Stephen, you both help me with today’s reflection, very admittedly a tough one.

    Thankful to be able to help older people attend a concert and bring them home. Each of us helped another person in some way. Grateful for progress with our basement project. It has been tough going, frustrating, even painful,
    but there are positive results. Am anticipating a wonderful men’s communion breakfast tomorrow.

    Prayers for safe travel for Jill, her parents, and all who are underway to a destination. Prayers for Carol, Lou, Mary, Andrea, Sara, Rusty, and Stephen and all who come to the UR. Jesus is with us when we gather in His name.
    Lord, may those without a church home find one. Acknowledging that we need You, Lord, is the first step. Often it is the toughest one.

  • Rusty February 17, 2017, 6:51 am

    I’m actually not offended by either this biblical passage or the writer’s explanation at all. I find it beautiful. It is Jesus (God) asking the question, not any of us. And it is God (Jesus) who respects the person enough to seek the suffering person’s assent and participation. God never imposes himself on us. That is why he knocks st the door to each of our hearts and waits for us to invite him in. Moreover the passage and the writer’s explanation show respect for the individual in another critical way. Healing means a change. When one is healed, especially when illness has been longstanding, the individual must give up what they had before that enabled them to survive. On one level, it means giving up their own solution and surrendering to God’s solution. I don’t find that offensive at all, and I see (and I hope respect) how difficult that can be for an ill person. It means losing the protection one has created for one’s self against a painful and un-sensing world. It may mean becoming someone completely new. (But that, after all, is what becoming surrendered to God is all about.). Finally, “healing” in God’s perspective may not be at all what we think it means. We can get a vague sense (and that is be best we can ever do even thinking about God – we see through the glass darkly) when we ponder the idea of relationship with God and redemption. Healing, salvation and wholeness are often the same Greek word often in scripture. And God loves us and respects enough to give us a part in our own healing. Our own salvation. Our own becoming whole, in him.

    • robert moeller February 17, 2017, 7:00 am

      Very well said, thank you, Rusty. Yes, God’s ways are not our ways and God’s ways are best.

  • Connie February 17, 2017, 8:26 am

    It was not just anybody asking the question-it was Jesus.

  • Carol February 17, 2017, 8:50 am

    Heavens – some reading today! Firstly, rusty, you are so correct. Healing will take away that which we have become accustomed to ie help, support, care etc. I remember a woman in hospital. She received cards, flowers, visitors – all that she had never received before. She never left the hospital! Regards Jesus asking what this person wanted. No one knew that they could be healed ie sins forgiven. We know this now but not then. Do we want healing and maybe losing what we have. It can even be self pity?! It can be so many things! c

  • robert moeller February 17, 2017, 8:58 am

    When God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit ask, we are in a different realm. They can ask questions we can not even if we use the same words for they can do what we can not. They are not idle words when we say, “God works in mysterious ways.”

    Thank you Rusty, Carol, and Connie.

  • Tan February 17, 2017, 9:04 am

    What stands in the way of me believing without a shadow of a doubt I’m am worthy to be healed, is the next step. Adjusting and accepting the challenges that come along with the healing,Has made me question of the healing I’m requesting took place or if it’s a trial to see if I’m ready to handle the healing. This is because the healed place feels different than what I expected and almost self sabatoging to be relieved of the new challenges.

    I am Thankyou for the communication that has been restored between my Aunt,Uncle and Myself.

  • Stephen February 17, 2017, 9:31 am

    I would suspect that most of you have never been seriously ill. Second, i would question what kind of God you worship. Some of you sound like the god you worship isn’t really god at all – no god that would attract me to believing. Just a bunch of religious jargon and heap of theological words somebody fed you. Take time to find God.

    • Rusty February 17, 2017, 10:47 am

      Stephen, thank you for writing. I am sorry if any of our comments here have caused you pain. I believe those here are truly and sincerely seeking God. I am certain that none of us are 100% there yet, by any means. My prayer is that we will all receive God’s grace and mercy when we have missed the target. May God’s peace find you, friend, and every one of us.

  • Sara February 17, 2017, 10:29 am

    Comments so eloquently written. I’m also thinking if someone is paralyzed, has a chronic condition or limited ability due to aging do we need God’s healing in our spirit and attitude to do the best we can in the situation? Sometimes limited ability and change in our body can cause anger and depression.

    Blessings and peace to all visiting the UR today.

  • Sara February 17, 2017, 10:58 am

    Yes, Stephen, it does take time to find God and I feel it’s a life long journey. I’m 74 and there are times when terrible things happen I still want to ask God why, why, why. I may be showing I’m not mature in my Christian life, but I’m also human and can be vulnerable to doubt and questions concerning difficult situations. I really feel God understands.


  • robert moeller February 18, 2017, 2:06 am

    Stephen, finding God is a life long activity whether you are a believer or not.
    My wish is that everyone finds God. It is the best thing that can happen to anyone.

  • Stephen February 18, 2017, 8:28 am

    My point is that painting God as someone who blames the victim is not only theologically incorrect, it’s offensive and offputting. That’s not God.

    Also, people who make comments about someone who got flowers in the hospital so they never left because they enjoyed the attention, are not only very ignorant and uncaring, but also probably have never met the God of love and compassion. That was my point. Most people do not want to sick. Trust me.

  • Sara February 18, 2017, 6:05 pm

    Stephen, thanks for responding. And, yes, God is a God of love and compression. And we live in a world of good and evil. God Bless.

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