Chronicled in John
As of this writing, I am forty years old. I say that not to bring attention to myself, but to make a point. The man in this account had been vexed with some sort of infirmity (most likely unable to walk) for nearly my entire life (John 5 says thirty-eight years, to be exact). I could not fathom being lame for one day, but thirty-eight years? I have nothing but sympathy for those who are born with this issue or who are forced into a life without the use of their legs by some traumatic occurrence.
Here was this man, lying on his mat, virtually helpless. Day after day, he waited anxiously by the pool of Bethesda, an almost mythical place where an angel came at a certain time and stirred the water. While it was troubled, the water would heal the first person to step into the pool. This man was one of the multitudes of sick folks who waited by this pool. If he could just make it to the pool, he would walk away a whole man. For thirty-eight years he suffered. There is no telling how long he had been at the pool. It could have been days, months, or—most likely—years. He just couldn’t drag himself to that pool quickly enough.
With each person there fighting to get himself healed, there was no compassion for anyone else’s tale of woe. It was a simple equation: pool + me first = healed. So, the man lay in misery with no assistance and no hope. Then, along came Jesus (that has been a prevailing theme in this devotional). Wherever Jesus treads, there is always hope. God makes a way where everyone else says there isn’t one.
The Lord saw this man and immediately could tell he had been in this condition for a long time. Maybe the man’s haggard appearance tipped Him off. Could it have been the drawn, shriveled look of his useless legs? Perhaps the man simply had thirty-eight years of shame and despair in his eyes. Whatever the case, Jesus was drawn to him. Out of the sea of humanity that surrounded them, Jesus focused on this one. Thirty-eight years then became a distant memory.
“Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked (John 5:6-9).
Just like that, he was healed. Not ten minutes later. Not two seconds later. His legs instantly grew strong and taut. His knees and ankles became sturdy in a moment’s time. The muscle tone in his calves and quadriceps became like that of a man twenty years his junior. There was no magic potion, no incantation, no troubled water, no waiting for an angel. He just needed God.
So, how do we triumph in the midst of trial? Stop asking for help and start asking for the Lord.