June 19, 2018
"[Jesus] said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?' 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 going another steps down before me.' Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.' And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked." John 5:6b-9 (ESV)
I have been praying for healing now for over 20 years - more than half my life.
And to be honest, I get tired of praying the same prayer over and over, asking the Lord to heal me from a medical condition. It's emotionally exhausting and spiritually defeating. I've prayed. I've fasted. I've seen doctors and counselors - you name it, I've probably tried it. But here I am, 23 years later, still struggling.
Some days I wonder - what's the point? Why keep praying? Why keep hoping? Why keep asking the Lord to heal me?
I know the Lord is more than able to heal me, but He hasn't - at least not yet. So I wonder: Is it really worth it to keep pouring my heart out to Him? To risk feeling vulnerable again? To hope again?
The invalid we see in John 5:2-9 probably wondered the same things. He had been an invalid for 38 years. Thirty-eight! For nearly 40 years of his life - perhaps all his life? - this man had been unable to walk or move on his own, and so he spent his time waiting by the pool of Bethesda.
Why? Because occasionally the waters of the pool were stirred, and the first person into it after the stirring would be healed. While it seems like a crazy hope - to wait an indefinite amount of time for just the opportunity to receive a miracle - that's what everyone around the pool was doing. Waiting. Hoping. Praying that today might be the day when the water was stirred and they could be the first one in. Praying for breakthrough.
But this man had been waiting for a long, long time without being able to claim the miracle as his own. Imagine how discouraging it must have been for him to see others healed - over and over - without receiving that healing for himself.
We all have areas in our lives where we feel that same defeat. The struggle we've been begging God to fix for years and years remains unresolved. The job we want slips through our grasp, the relationship we long for never materializes. We look around, and it seems that everyone else is getting what we are aching for - and there's nothing we can do but wait.
Waiting is immensely painful at times. It reminds us we aren't in control ... and it is impossible for us to change our own circumstances. We need the Lord to move on our behalf. We can't get ourselves into that pool. We can't heal ourselves.
The good news is that Jesus always shows up. It's not usually in our way or in our timing, but He doesn't leave us alone - and He never ignores us.
The invalid waited 38 years, but the truth was Jesus knew his story and met him at just the right moment. As we see in John 5:6b-9, "[Jesus] said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?' 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 going another steps down before me.' Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.' And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked."
I'm not healed yet, but Jesus knows my story, and He has good for me up ahead - even if my healing doesn't come until heaven.
Jesus knows your story, too. Whether you're waiting for healing in your body, your mind, your relationships, your finances or something else - you're not alone. Christ is with you. He isn't ignoring your prayers. We might never fully understand His timing, but we can trust in His love for us - a love that took Him all the way to the cross for our ultimate healing and wholeness.
Lord, Your timing is difficult for me to understand sometimes, and I'm tired of waiting for a breakthrough. But I choose to trust You again today. I believe You are at work in my life ... and You will bring about the answer to my prayer in Your perfect timing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 6:29, "Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" (NIV)
RELATED RESOURCES: Have you ever needed a fresh start? We need more than a renovation or a face-lift; we need a new creation. John's Gospel is devoted to showing us how, through the life of Jesus, we can step into an entirely new beginning. Join us for our next First 5 study, That You May Believe, starting July 2! Click here to find out more.
CONNECT: No matter what you're waiting for God to change, heal or restore in your life, Ann Swindell's book, Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want, will encourage you in your journey toward hope and wholeness. Order it here!
REFLECT AND RESPOND: How can you actively choose to trust God today in the middle of your waiting? Share your thoughts with us!
© 2018 by Ann Swindell. All rights reserved.